This week is Global Entrepreneurship Week – a week that aims to grow enterprise ambition and motivate people to meet their new business potential. Entrepreneurs and budding entrepreneurs from across the globe use the week to share ideas, connect with each other and receive valuable support and advice. Sounds great, but what does this mean for the UK’s small businesses? Why should they care about Global Entrepreneurship Week?
The organisation I represent – Youth Business International – runs the week in the UK and 10 other countries across the globe. Our ultimate goal is to help people around the world to start and grow their own business. Global Entrepreneurship Week gives us a platform from which to drive this goal forward, shining a spotlight on enterprise that enables us inspire and encourage new business ventures. But, for me, Global Entrepreneurship Week is more than that. Now in its tenth year, the week has become more of a movement than a PR push.
The campaign will see over 3,000 events across the country involving in excess of 300,000 people. Very few of these events are organised directly by Youth Business International. They’re organised by partners, from schools who want to inspire their young people to Barclays Bank who want to help businesses take their venture to the next stage.
So why should small businesses care? For me, there are three reasons. First of all, the week can be a catalyst for growth. Our theme this year is ‘take a step forward’ and the activity taking place is focused on giving small firms the tools and encouragement to push themselves, even if they make just one change that will open up their potential. Secondly, the week shines a light on the importance of enterprise – it’s a celebration of the UK’s start-ups and a time to be bold in communicating the value they bring to our economy. And finally, through the week, small businesses have unprecedented access to a huge amount of practical advice and resources, from masterclasses in international client marketing to bookkeeping workshops.
Global Entrepreneurship Week genuinely helps entrepreneurs to get the recognition they deserve and the support they need to grow. That’s why I believe it’s a week that all small businesses should take note of.
For more information about Global Entrepreneurship Week, to learn more about the events taking place across the world and how you can be involved, visit www.gew.org.uk or follow the hashtag, #GEWfwd on Twitter.
Andrew Devenport is the Chief Executive of Youth Business International
More than 350 events in the UK involving more than 76,000 people are planned, but there is still time to stage your own event – and there are many good reasons why you should (you can email the organisers for advice).
Business Secretary Vince Cable will launch GEW at an event at Westminster Kingsway College, which will be hosted by organizers Youth Business International and sponsors Barclays, where attendees will include former Pizza Express entrepreneur Luke Johnson, and Gandy’s Flip Flops founders Rob and Paul Forkan.
The theme for this year’s GEW is to encourage would-be entrepreneurs and business owners to “Take a Step Forward” towards starting a business. According to the organisers, highlights of the week include:
This year marks the tenth year of GEW, according to organisers, a week that is “dedicated to giving individuals and start-ups practical support to help them get set up and grow”. Last year, they say, 279,500 people in the UK attended more than 3,200 GEW events organised by more than 500 partner organisations.
“Young or old, whether you’re in Barrow or Braintree, or Greenock or Greenwich, Global Entrepreneurship Week can help you take a step forward,” comments Andrew Devenport, chief executive of Youth Business International (YBL – “a global network of independent non-profit initiatives” with HRH The Prince of Wales as its president). “We had a record year last year, but 2013 is shaping up to be even bigger and better.”
GEW certainly has high-level support. Prime Minister David Cameron says: “Global Entrepreneurship Week is about growing enterprise ambition and ensuring that those with ideas know where to get the support they need to make them a reality. It’s about creating jobs and opportunities.”
YBL says it believes that a large national campaign to promote entrepreneurship is “a vital part of making the UK more entrepreneurial, to encourage more people to start up their own business.
“The challenge we face is simple: while more than half of the population would like to start their own business, less than 5% actually do. These entrepreneurial ambitions are even more acute among young people and women. Young people in the UK are three-times more likely to be unemployed than adults, and more than twice as many men start businesses as women.”
Maybe this year’s GEW can help to address such problems by encouraging many more people to take control of the future by starting their own business.
Billed by its organisers as “Europe's most important business event” and “the UK’s biggest exhibition for anyone starting or expanding a business”, Business Startup (which is being run alongside The Business Show 2013) will take place on 28 and 29 November in London at Olympia.
The good news is, if you live close to London or are able to travel there, free tickets are still available. Over the two days, when more than 25,000 people are expected to attend, there will be 10 workshops, more than 250 free seminars and 350-plus exhibitors gathered.
Speakers at the event include Sir Tom Shebbeare (chairman of Virgin StartUp), Doug Richard (ex-Dragon and founder of School for Startups) and David Gold (joint chairman of West Ham United and chair/owner of Gold Group, which owns Ann Summers and many other successful businesses), among many others.
According to the organisers: “Business experts will cover everything you need to know to get your business started and offer you their invaluable experiences, tips and secrets.”
As well as access to some excellent free information and advice, the event potentially also offers fantastic networking opportunities.
Order your free tickets while you can.
Taking on employee is a significant step for all businesses, but new businesses in particular can find it a daunting experience. Mistakes can lead to costly tribunal claims, of course. Part of the problem is that many business owners aren’t sure about their obligations as an employer nor do they have the luxury of their own HR staff.
Nobody wants to think that what you thought was the perfect hire could result in a costly tribunal case, but one in six disputes do – at an average cost of £9,000. Add to this solicitor’s fees and time taken out of running your business and you are looking at nearer £20,000 in costs, which could be crippling for many small businesses.
At very least, employers need to know what basic legal rights employees have in the workplace. Mainly, these cover: pay and hours; discrimination; and disciplinary and dismissal.
Employees have the right to be paid at least the national minimum wage and the same pay as members of the opposite sex doing the same work of equal value for your business. Rest breaks and paid holiday must be in line with the Working Time Regulations. Employees also have rights to statutory sick pay and redundancy pay, while being protected from any unauthorised deductions in pay. Qualifying employees are also entitled maternity, paternity and adoption leave and pay, as well as paid leave for antenatal care, unpaid dependants’ leave, unpaid parental leave (after one year) and the right to request flexible working. Employees are also entitled to time off for public duties such as jury service.
Employees must not be discriminated against unlawfully on the grounds of race, sex, marriage, pregnancy, disability, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, age, religion or belief. Protection against less favourable treatment also exists for part-time workers, as well as ‘whistle-blowers’ and trade union members.
All employees have the right not to be unfairly dismissed, after a qualifying period of two years. Employees have the right to access fair grievance, disciplinary and disciplinary procedures, and the right to be accompanied at disciplinary and grievance procedure hearings.
All employees also have the right to receive a written statement of terms and conditions of employment (such as an employment contract) within two months of starting. This can avoid one the main causes of employment tribunal claims.
Tribunals and investigations may never happen to you, but by seeking advice from organisations such as the Forum, to ensure you are up to speed with your obligations as an employer, can help you avoid any nasty surprises later.
Blog supplied by Joanne Eccles, business advisor at the Forum of Private Business, which has produced a free-to-download guide called 5 Essential Things Every Employer Should Know, with further hints and tips on your obligations as an employer, health and safety legislation, tax and finance responsibilities and recruiting advice.
Financing a business has traditionally meant asking a few people for large sums of money. Crowdfunding – one of the most talked-about funding channels in recent years – turns this idea on its head by enabling businesses to use the Internet to ask a multitude of potential funders for defined, comparatively small amounts of money.
The question of how to fund and share profit more creatively was hotly debated at this year’s Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network 2013 event. Speaking at a pre-conference workshop on accessing capital, Springboard Enterprises president Amy Millman stressed the importance of getting the right source of credit, suggesting that crowdsourcing can provide an innovative means of becoming a more social, community brand in opening a company up to a broader and younger pool of shareholders.
And with funding options drastically reduced in the wake of the global banking crisis, small businesses are jumping at the chance to get their finance from ordinary people: the crowd. But with little regulation, is this young credit market really a safe and viable option for businesses looking to meet their growth ambitions?
Crowdfunding essentially means asking a crowd of people for a fixed amount of money for a business venture or specific project in exchange for a reward. As a relatively new market, the credibility and stability of crowdfunding needs strengthening – something increased regulation will help bring about.
Currently, just a limited number of platforms are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, meaning many crowdfunding companies are handling transactions without adequate protection – even if the UK Crowdfunding Association has a practice code in place to protect those involved. Few sites can ensure an investor won’t lose money in the event of the platform collapsing.
Ensuring potential investors have as much information as possible about a start-up is essential for informed decisions. That’s why any business looking for funding via these channels must be totally clear about why they need the investment, how it will be used, and how much they need to reach their growth and profit targets.
Unlike traditional pitching, potential investors are unlikely to have met the start-up, so must be made to feel part of the success story. A company needs to tie-in their crowdsourcing outreach with a social and media engagement strategy. Of course, the nature of both social media and crowdfunding means that entrepreneurs must be ready to receive feedback – both the good and bad – in a very public domain.
Ultimately, any business looking to raise funding through crowdfunding must do their due diligence before diving into these still largely untested waters. Not all crowdfunding platforms will be appropriate for the business or project in hand, so research is essential.
And it’s not for the faint-of-heart. It can be a lot of work to kick-start and maintain the momentum that will see a project through to its desired end. But crowdfunding can also provide a start-up with unique exposure and feedback from those who matter most – your target audience of ‘ordinary’ people.
Blog supplied by Sarah Shields, executive director and GM, consumer, small and medium enterprise, Dell UK.
Becoming a paperless (or near paperless) business isn’t something that can be achieved overnight. It takes time, effort and patience from every member of your team. It was reported by The Guardian that more that 80 million tonnes of paper is wasted every year.
Going paperless will certainly benefit the environment, but what are the business benefits? Not only can it clear away clutter and create more space, you can also expect increased levels of productivity and lower long-term costs. So how do you become a paperless business?
The road to becoming a paperless business isn’t an initially cheap one. If you want to see results in the future, you have to be willing to invest in new technology now. After all, if you’re intending on banishing printing forever, your staff are going to need paperless alternatives.
If you invest in second monitors for your employees, they will no longer require printed documents to refer to as they work. Productivity will also increase thanks to shorter queues around the printer and the ability to multi-task.
Tablet computers are fantastic for displaying presentations, taking notes in meetings and referring to documents side-by-side while you work at another computer.
If your filing cabinets are full to the brim, it may be time to start storing your documents in the cloud. All your files can be stored online and accessed anywhere, from any device. Services like DropBox and Google Drive allow you to save files online, eliminating the need for paper copies. You can also apply specific restrictions to the files, so that only certain documents can be accessed by certain people.
Finding documents becomes a lot quicker and easier too, because your employees can use the system’s online search tools. Staff members are able to access the files they need without leaving their desks.
It’s time to clamp down on all unnecessary printing. Make it clear to your people that documents should only be printed if absolutely necessary. This is a much trickier process if you haven’t put new technology and other alternatives in place.
Take the time to look at your printing habits to identify particular bad practices or repeat offenders. Remove a couple of printers from your office and insist that documents are printed in mono and double-sided at all times.
Print management software allows you to take control of your printing output quickly and easily. It usually allows you to set monthly ‘printing allowances’ for each employee to foster better habits.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, so it’s important to remember that this process takes time. Stay positive and you will begin to see progress every day.
Blog supplied by office supplier Viking.