02-06-2009, 11:33 AM
Thanks to everyone who took part in our Shell LiveWIRE UK Business Barometer survey in March / April. We'll be publishing the results soon, but for now, here's some recent press coverage it received in the Cambridge News today;
Signs of business confidence are evident among the next generation of entrepreneurs, according to new research by Shell LiveWIRE.
The poll, by one of the longest running youth enterprise schemes, shows entrepreneurs are optimistic about riding out the recession and are responding to it by identifying new business opportunities and taking advantage of technology to give them the business edge.
A staggering 90% of those polled feel confident about making their business a success in spite of the recession. Two thirds believe their business will perform slightly or significantly better over the next 12 months.
In responding to the current economic climate, fledgling and would-be entrepreneurs are taking steps to help them become stronger business people.
Almost a third say the recession has made them more determined than ever to succeed; a fifth that it has inspired them to refocus their business, while a further fifth have diversified into other areas to 'recessionproof ' their business. Nearly a fifth say they have interrogated their business plan more thoroughly.
Worries about funding are high, but the recession seems to have brought about a spirit of collaboration among this generation of entrepreneurs. Rather than operating as individuals, they draw heavily on peer to peer support, with 71% saying networking is more important now than before the recession.
Shell LiveWIRE, which has been giving free support to would-be entrepreneurs since 1982, re-launched earlier this year with a new and improved networking website and regular cash awards for aspiring 16-30 year olds with great business ideas.
Every month, up to five aspiring entrepreneurs are awarded a Shell LiveWIRE Grand Ideas Award of £1k to fund an innovative project to help get their idea off the ground. In addition, the Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards, will be held in October, with a £10k prize.
Recent Grand Ideas Award winners include Luke Jefferson, co-founder of Scratchface - a start-up company which has created an innovative "Huetility" device which helps decode colours for the colourblind.
The £1k cash injection from Shell LiveWIRE is helping him to develop a new application of this technology for the iPhone.
What do you think? Do you agree with these findings?
02-06-2009, 12:04 PM
Damn right were positive. No recession can hold us down for long =)
Oh yes us British will nibble away at every gap in the wall of recission and be the first ones to have a clear hole to break through it.
Also we're tightening up the holes in the big sack they call the treasury or something. Also war efforts are reducing (providing N.Korea behave) so when things do improve I think we'll notice more money coming to us individually than in 2008.
So it might be a good thing it all happened, hows that for bloody positive then!
AND to top it of we have an election soon a great chance to burn government, sorry I meant "change" government.
Get Digital UK
02-06-2009, 02:59 PM
very interesting... I would say its all about adapting to the current situation, changing the approach if needs be, offer customers a different product or even get involved with a new idea and a new business.
A few friends of mine have been made redundant and are actively seeking to go self employed or starting their own business, which surely proves there is opportunity out there, it just needs to be found!
Get Digital UK
Get Digital offers consumers impartial advice on digital TV, broadband and home phone services, as well as looking at the best deals offered by broadband service providers.
03-06-2009, 01:09 PM
Shell LiveWIRE and other support organisations got a nice little mention in The Independent yesterday too...
Funding might be tight – but entrepreneurs have plenty of support to start a business, says Roger Trapp, The Independent, 2nd June
Setting up in business has never been easier. The turbulence in the financial markets of recent months may have made finance harder to come by, but there is still a realisation that start-ups and other smaller businesses are going to play an important part in any recovery. Most important, the Government is committed to a sector that, according to its latest statistics, accounts for 99.9 per cent of all businesses in the UK and employs 13.5 million people, or nearly 60 per cent of the private-sector workforce.
In its apparent efforts to demonstrate that commitment over its decade or so in power, the Government has announced so many initiatives that would-be entrepreneurs have become extremely confused. However, ministers have responded to criticism and announced that the thousands of publicly-funded support schemes available to small businesses will be reduced to 30 - under the heading "Solutions for Business". This programme was launched by the Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform in March and is due to be fully in place by next March.
The services are, as before, available via Business Link, a network of one-stop advice agencies around England and Wales (there are equivalent bodies in Scotland and Northern Ireland) that are funded by the Regional Development Agencies and draw together expertise from within government departments, local authorities and elsewhere.
However, the Government is not the only source of assistance. Among the other important players in this area is the Prince's Trust, the charity set up by Prince Charles to help disadvantaged young people. Among its many activities is its business programme, which provides money and other support to those wanting to set up a business. Last year, it helped 9,300 young people.
Lora Leedham,23, is one of those young people. She had a tough start in life, growing up in an area of Birmingham where underachievement at school and getting pregnant at a young age were the norm. But she took a huge gamble by starting up her own jewellery company (www.loraleedham.co.uk) with the help of The Prince's Trust. The business now has 38 stockists across the UK and Europe.
And then there is 26-year-old Adrian Carter, from London, who lost his right arm and was paralysed from the waist down in a motorcycle accident. He was given a boost when he pitched his idea for a Caribbean catering company - Carter's Caters - to The Prince's Trust, who saw huge potential in his idea and granted him a business loan and mentor. Carter recently received personal praise from HRH Prince Philip after catering an event for him.
Also playing an important role is Shell LiveWIRE, which has grown over the years from an awards programme into what is claimed to be the UK's largest online community for young entrepreneurs. Those setting up a business can use the website to obtain advice from experts or fellow young entrepreneurs. They can also do business with them. Or they can apply for awards in Shell LiveWIRE's annual competitions, which identify entrepreneurs of the year and make cash awards for bright ideas. One former Entrepreneur of the Year, Christian Arno, has grown his translation company, Lingo24, into a business with a £3m turnover in eight years.
With more and more young people going to university, there is increasing emphasis on helping them graduate into careers in business, particularly smaller enterprises. Many business schools have long had entrepreneurial elements to their courses and at the height of the technology boom in particular many graduates of top business schools, such as London, Warwick and Cranfield opted for start-ups or small organisations rather than joining the big businesses that were the traditional recruiting ground for MBAs. With the financial world restricting recruitment considerably, the coming years could well see more former business students and other graduates opting for start-ups.
Against this backdrop, John Denham, the Universities and Skills Secretary, earlier this year appointed Peter Jones of Dragons' Den to carry out a review of the help people receive from universities and colleges when trying to start their own business. Many of these institutions already provide support, ranging from specialist tuition in such areas as tax law and intellectual property rights. They are also behind many "incubator units" that are designed to ease fledgling businesses through their early stages and some of the country's top universities for science have for many years encouraged laboratory discoveries to be "spun out" as businesses. Cambridge Science Park is an example of how technology businesses have clustered together around the laboratories that gave rise to them.
A particularly interesting recent initiative is VentureNavigator, a government-funded online service that supports would-be start-ups by helping the founders assess the idea and recommending specialist advisers. It also provides an online community of experts and fellow entrepreneurs to draw upon - all for free. The service has been created by a consortium including Essex University, Leeds University, the Open University and the Institute for Manufacturing at Cambridge University. It is also supported by the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (Nesta), which encourages innovation; the National Council for Graduate Entrepreneurship; the British Library, which has extensive resources available to entrepreneurs; Enterprise Insight, which encourages enterprise in young people; and the UK Intellectual Property Office.
Jones, who is chief executive of Phones International Group, has already demonstrated his commitment to helping young people develop their entrepreneurial ability by setting up the National Enterprise Academy. But he wants to go further: "I believe we could be improving skills provision in enterprise and entrepreneurship right across the age spectrum and this review will give me the opportunity to engage as widely as possibly with universities, colleges, businesses and other key organisations and explore and examine where significant impact and improvement could be made," he says.
Nor is Jones the only entrepreneur keen to encourage others to follow in his footsteps. Fellow "Dragon" Deborah Meaden has just published a book called Common Sense Rules in which she shares many insights into what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. She also offers extensive practical advice on her website, www.deborahmeaden.com.
There is, therefore, no shortage of people or places from which to obtain advice and help on starting out. What is more problematic is finding finance. Banks and other funds are rather less free with their money than they have been. But that is not to say that funds are not available at all. After all, the Government made it a condition of supporting some of the high-street banks that they maintained funding of small businesses at 2007 levels. Inevitably, though, bankers and other providers of finance will be more circumspect and will seek more detailed business plans and evidence of experience and/or expertise on the part of the people who will be running the businesses.
The Government is attempting to help in this area with the Strategic Investment Fund, launched with some fanfare but little detail as part of the Budget in April. The British Venture Capital Association and Nesta are among organisations that have pressed for more information on how the £750m earmarked for the fund will be spent.
Venture capitalists tend not to finance very small businesses, though there are some that specialise in early-stage businesses. Another potential source of funds is the group known as "business angels", high net worth individuals who invest in businesses in return for a share of the company.
Entrepreneurs need to beware, though, that despite their name, angels are not necessarily friendlier than banks and will typically want to see a return on their investment in about five years, either by floating the company on the stock market or by selling the business on to another private equity company. This scenario is not necessarily less stressful than having financing through a bank.
Finally, a business only succeeds if people know about it and buy its goods or services. One of the best ways for young businesses to market themselves is to enter one of the many competitions designed to recognise entrepreneurs and their enterprises. Even if they do not win, they can attract invaluable attention.
11-06-2009, 11:42 AM
Networking has become highlighted in it's importance, as keeping positive is essential. So glad to see Shell LiveWIRE confirming this.
For several years now I have been running workshops on the subject of networking and a group of young entrepreneurs, managers and those aspiring to be will be going along to a free workshop on Effective Networking organised by JCI Cambridge on 15th June. If you are in the area and would like to brush up on these essential skills come along to The Ranch on Histon Road, Cambridge - start time 6.30pm. see www.jcicambridge.com for more info
11-06-2009, 12:08 PM
There was another article on this subject in the Financial Times on Saturday all about LiveWIRE and why some of the young businesses that have won one of our monthly £1,000 'Grand Ideas' Awards this year aren't phased by the current recession.
Read the full article on our main website News page at: http://www.shell-livewire.org/news/young-founders-optimistic/
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