I have been asked by so many people today what my thoughts are on Startup Britain and the way it has been launched. I have purposely taken a step back and watched rather than just wade in with an opinion.
For those of you not aware of what it is, StartUp Britain is a Government endorsed initiative led by 8 entrepreneurs intending to encourage and support new business and business growth in the UK.
The initial launch has caused a massive response from the business community because their perception is that it appears self serving to the founders and that it is signposting international companies rather than supporting UK business. The most comprehensive response can be found here and has been re-tweeted over 800 times at the time of writing.
I must declare my interests here. I know several of the entrepreneurs behind this initiative fairly well and believe in my heart of hearts that their intentions are good and ultimate vision is excellent. The question is will it ever be realised with so much negativity directed at them from day one?
There is no getting away from the fact that mistakes have been made and I think their biggest failing is not explaining that there is much more to come. This is only the starting phase.
Does Britain need this? I believe so. We live in a country where you need a licence to fish, yet you can start a business, employ staff without any idea what your obligations are as an employer. Failure to get this right, in extreme circumstances can lead to a custodial sentence. Is it important for new business owners to make informed, educated decisions? Of course it is.
I believe many people who start a new business are leveraging skills from past careers and have decided to go it alone. They may be knowledgeable in their fields but don’t necessarily understand how to market or sell these services. Having somewhere to find information & resources to support growth is essential.
I know this initiative has been put together at incredibly short notice, less than a month in fact. What you can see so far really is just like a holding page. Do I think they have made mistakes? Absolutely. Personally I think they should have taken more time to consider the impact of this on all parties involved, from the entrepreneurs to the politicians. But isn’t that typical behaviour from an entrepreneur? They just want to get on with it!
I have watched the twitter stream from one or two of the interested parties and they do seem to be listening & acknowledging the cock ups. A friend of mine tweeted the question “If they hold their hands up and put it all right will people move on and support? I hope so.
Credit where credit is due. To get so many companies involved and committed at such short notice is no small task. There is clearly the will from the private sector to support UK enterprise. It was rightly pointed out by many of the early detractors, many of these offers are also readily available elsewhere on the web if you search. But isn’t the point of this early website to signpost deals & discounts business owners can take advantage of so they don’t have to search? Many wont have been aware of them in the first place!
Another criticism is the linking to American logo sites. I am not even going to attempt to defend this mistake. Many of my members are in the creative industries and actually have special offers for small businesses. This is a blunder and one I hope gets corrected soon.
As I mentioned above I believe this is just the first phase and there is more to come. I hope they are given the chance to repair the initial damage.
I also hope they acknowledge the existing organisations that are out there supporting small business every day. The networking organisations, Chambers of Commerce, Forum for Private Business, Federation of Small Businesses (Said reluctantly in the interests of being balanced), existing coaching and mentoring programmes etc etc. Other online resources and not just those owned by the founders of which there are many in the UK providing bags of useful content.
There is a big opportunity here to SERIOUSLY ADD VALUE! I not only think they are capable of delivering but I believe it is needed. What are you doing to help? I know how I can.
I am watching with a very keen interest and hope this is considered balanced!
Several more blogs if you are interested. See how opinion is divided…
Duane Jackson – StartUp Britain and the concept enlightened self interest
Knowledgeblog – StartUp Britain, who benefits?
Blokes on the Blog – StartUp Britain OMFG
Create – StartUp Britain, What are you doing?