Capital Enterprise is very happy to hear that Mark Prisk has been appointed Minster for Small Business at the Department of BIS. Whatever our political persuasion, we all found Mark to be in complete command of his brief when he spoke as Shadow Minister for Business to Capital Enterprise members and partners back in March. So it is a very welcomed development that we now have a minister in charge with the empathy, first hand experience and, most importantly, policies to support entrepreneurship in Britain.
Last night I heard a very rousing speech from Doug Richards at the UCL Enterprise Awards. The ex-Dragon made a compelling case that you do not grow an economy or business by slashing cost, that we do not create wealth and jobs by downsizing. He emphasised that the main focus of all government policies and plans should not be “deficit reduction” but how this new government (preferably in partnership with businesses, universities and not-for-profits such as enterprise agencies) can foster and grow entrepreneurship in Britain. It is to entrepreneurs, and the much neglected small business, that the country must now rely on to help the UK economy compete with tiger economies such as China. If not entrepreneurs, then who will create the jobs and wealth?
It is in this spirit that we hope that the Department of BIS, and particularly the Minister for Small Businesses, will take a leading role in this new government. We hope that enterprise support in all its guises (whether that be helping the unemployed to return to work via self-employment, helping a new entrepreneur to develop and bring to market a new game breaking technology, or helping an SME to overcome the barriers that prevent them exporting their products and services overseas) is given its due recognition. We believe it is not a time to cut back on investing in entrepreneurship, but a time to increase that investment.
We therefore wish the new Minister every luck in finding those much advertised efficiency savings preferably by attacking the unnecessary bureaucracy that plagues the sector, by dropping the mindless focus on “gateways” and by cutting back funding for programmes that are failing because they vainly seek to incentivise the small business to invest money and time in activities that they cannot directly benefit from (See my previous blog to get a better idea about what I mean) .
We hope the savings made are used to encourage and enable more people to start up a business (especially the type that will grow rapidly) and to support and enable existing businesses to innovate, invest and grow. If the government is pleading they are still short of cash, then we strongly advise that do more to encourage, if not coerce, the major corporations in the UK to dip into the pockets to provide new funding for enterprise support programmes.
Finally, on behalf of our enterprise agency and charity members, we strongly urge the new Minister works with Capital Enterprise and organisations such as the NFEA to find a long term solution towards the funding of local enterprise support delivery. “The Big Society” agenda demands that at the heart of a local community is a vibrant and competitive economy and we believe at the heart of that economy there needs to be not for profit agency solely dedicated to helping its constituents (entrepreneurs and small businesses) prosper. So what we want is a new coalition – they seem to be all the rage.
P.S. If you want to hear Doug Richards speak, he and his School for Entrepreneurs is at the London Met on the 26th May. For more details: schoolforstartups.co.uk/events