The FFF Interview: Emma Sinclair, founder, EnterpriseJungle

This week, I caught up with Emma Sinclair – serial entrepreneur, Unicef Business Ambassador and the youngest person to IPO on the London Stock Exchange.

Emma left a successful career at Rothschild to found Mission Capital, which she floated aged 29. Since, she has built two more businesses – Target Parking and EnterpriseJungle.

She has never let her age act as a barrier to her success, and she dismisses claims that female entrepreneurs aren’t taken as seriously as their male counterparts. Nonetheless, she spends much of her free time championing entrepreneurship across the globe and giving back to the entrepreneurial community.

“I’m happy to do it: I love each and every interesting person, venture and event I cross paths with. I never tire of hearing their stories and experiences.”

Read my interview with Emma in full here.

Exporting opportunities for UK businesses | Philip Salter writes for Virgin StartUp

Many entrepreneurs have set their sights on expanding overseas, but may not know where to start. And, as our director Philip Salter points out in Virgin StartUp, getting advice can be tricky – which is why we’ve partnered with UKTI on its Exporting is GREAT initiative.

“It has been calculated that poor professional advice from third parties and consultants has resulted in one in six small firms losing money in the last year, at a total cost of £6.4bn.”

So where should internationally ambitious entrepreneurs turn to for advice? Read Philip’s article in full here.

Why we should abolish employers’ National Insurance

In response this week’s Budget, I’ve made the case for integrating employers’ national insurance, income tax and employees’ NI.

“Complexity has long been a feature of taxation in Britain, and nowhere is this more manifest than in the National Insurance regime. Constant tinkering over the last 70 years has left it unrecognisable and has reduced the likelihood of the electorate appreciating (i) what their total tax burden is; and (ii) the size of any increase.

“But what makes the NICs regime especially opaque is the employers’ part of national insurance, not least because the incidence falls squarely on employees.” 

This is not to say employers are unburdened – studies have shown that administration alone imposes a significant cost on businesses and disproportionately affects smaller companies:

“SMEs are vital to the UK economy. Cutting costs creates an incentive for them to use their resources more efficiently and to transfer them into more production or more hiring. Further tweaking is not enough.”

Read my Huffington Post column in full here.

What did you think of the Budget? | Annabel Denham gives her views in ConHome

I joined Suella Fernandes MP, Dr Andrew Lilico, Tim Loughton MP and others to give my views on the Chancellor’s 2016 Budget.

“After the burdens to business of a National Living Wage, tax on share dividends, and auto-enrolment on pensions, entrepreneurs were looking for some compensation from the Chancellor in this Budget. On the face of it, Osborne has delivered.”

Read my ConservativeHome comment in full here.

What Budget 2016 means for entrepreneurs

Commenting on today’s Budget, Entrepreneurs Network director Philip Salter said:

“Cuts to growth forecasts may not have been what George Osborne and the country at large wanted, but for entrepreneurs, this was a solid Budget. Reducing corporation tax to 17% by 2020 sends the right signal that Britain is the best place in Europe to build a business, as does the cut to capital gains tax from the higher rate of 28% to 20% and the basic rate from 18% to 10%.

“Abolishing Class 2 National Insurance for 3.4 million self-employed people will act as a fillip for the self employed. But Osborne should have also tackled National Insurance by rolling both employees’ and employers’ NI into income tax. After all, the incidence falls on employees, and the burden falls on those businesses forced to manage the growing bureaucracy of exemptions.

“Perhaps the biggest surprise for entrepreneurs and investors was the extension of Entrepreneurs’ Relief to include long term investors in unlisted companies. This should help drive more risk capital into fast-growing companies.

“The cuts to business rates will be celebrated by many in the small business community, but it should be remembered that most economists calculate that the incidence of this tax actually falls on landowners. However, reform to Stamp Duty Land Tax on non-residential property transactions, which the government predicts will see a cut in tax for many small businesses purchasing property, is to be welcomed. Stamp duties are always and everywhere inefficient taxes.”

The best UK cities to scale a business

Our supporting founder Octopus Investments has identified some of the best places in the country to scale a business.

Its Urban Hub League Table 2016 is based on what the teams behind 22,470 High Growth Small Businesses thought were most important to them when building and growing their companies: finance, talent and connectivity.

As Philip Salter writes in Forbes this week:

“London’s dominance isn’t a shock, but Reading and Milton Keynes are (arguably) surprising additions to the top ten. And Scotland does itself credit with both Edinburgh and Glasgow making the top ten.

Read Philip’s analysis of the findings in full here.

The FFF interview: Debbie Wosskow, founder, Love Home Swap

In my latest Huffington Post column, I catch up with Love Home Swap founder and FFF member Debbie Wosskow about chutzpah, lie ins, and Hollywood romcoms.

Back in 2011, and inspired by mushy Christmas movie The Holiday, Wosskow founded a home-swap business that has now grown to over 100,000 members and 60 staff worldwide.

Equally as interesting as Wosskow’s entrepreneurial flair is her view on female entrepreneurship. “Women need a thick skin,” she tells me. “It’s easier for people to tell you all the things that are wrong with your business than all that are right.”

Read the interview in full here.

Cobra Beer founder Lord Bilimoria talks UK-India Business Relations

You would struggle to find a British statesman who can match the stateliness of Lord Bilimoria, Entrepreneurs Network director writes in his latest Forbes column.

The distinguished entrepreneur is not only founder of Cobra Beer, but also founding chairman of the UK-India Business Council, chancellor of the University of Birmingham and chairman of the advisory board at Cambridge Judge’s Business School.

Philip tapped his brain on Britain’s business relationship with India, and what the UK can learn from the way business is done in the former colony.

Read the interview in full here.

Small businesses needn’t fret about extended Sunday trading

In a column for the Huffington Post, I’ve asked whether small business outcry over changes to Sunday Trading Laws is justified. From Autumn 2016, prohibitions limiting large stores (with a floor space of over 3,000 sq ft) from opening on Sundays for more than six hours will be lifted – an announcement which has led to claims that this will only see more trade moving to larger stores at the expense of smaller shops.

Yet the evidence (research, polls and local borough reports), does not suggest that small businesses will suffer from their larger rivals opening for longer. A fifth of consumers have said they would do more shopping on a Sunday were the changes implemented, meaning more customers for everyone.

And rather than wishing the competition be banned from trading, small business owners – many of whom are disruptive by nature – should view this proposal as an opportunity to find new ways to innovate and outsmart their larger rivals.

Read the article in full here.

The FFF interview: Tamara Lohan MBE, founder, Mr and Mrs Smith

In the latest in a series of FFF interviews for the Huffington Post, I catch up with Tamara Lohan – one half of the duo behind Mr and Mrs Smith hotels.

Unlike many entrepreneurs, who sold lemonade at kindergarten and grew up wanting to be the next Bill Gates, Lohan took a more opportunistic approach to her career. It saw her launch an energy drink in Brazil, consult Ericsson and Swissair on their branding strategies and, at one point, run a dating agency.

In 2002, she co-founded Mr and Mrs Smith with her husband James. Since then, the business has grown into an award-winning booking service and worldwide travel club.

Read the interview in full here.