Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Giving Evidence

Further to my last post, you can hear the entire audio recording of yesterday's parliamentary committee session by clicking here.

Doug was very vocal, particularly given that he has just finished a somewhat scathing report on the current state of business support in Britain, but I did manage to get a few words in edgeways!

The key outcomes were:
- If we truly want to encourage entrepreneurship in Britain then enterprise skills need to be woven throughout the educational curriculum.
- Formal enterprise qualifications (like an MBA for entrepreneurship) sponsored by the government could be put in place. Not intended to be compulsory, but banks and other backers might be more willing to finance individuals who have undergone proper business training. Such a qualification would definitely reduce the level of early start up failures.
- What businesses most need is customers. Therefore not only open government procurement to small businesses but also provide incentives/programmes where entrepreneurs can create products/services to solve areas of concern in the UK - for example energy innovation.
- The role of banks needs to be reviewed, not just to encourage more support for start ups but also their role in frequently 'pulling the plug' on businesses which could otherwise be saved. They need to be made as culpable as directors in any post business failure review performed by DBERR.
- Improve the EIS scheme to give 'friends and family' type investors bigger tax breaks for putting up funding for small business. (For example, under Thatcher's Business Expansion Scheme you received 100% tax relief for investments in small business)
- As in the US, your home should not be at risk if your business fails.
- As in the US, a 'Chapter 11' type provision should exist to assist companies in difficulty protect themselves while they restructure.
- We need to change our attitude towards business failure which is still considered a stigma in this country - towards an attitude like the US where failure counts as your 'stripes of experience'.

All in all it was a fascinating process to be part of - let's see if any changes emerge!


Bradley Chapman said...

Hi Rachel...

The report is very pro Entrepreneurial Britain and as you know like many others, I have been on the sharp end of business failure..

I welcome changes in government legislation and improved banking protection for growing businesses.

So how do we get business people to reach when they are in trouble rather than waiting until its too late?

Best Wishes
Bradley Chapman

hani said...

Rachael, thankyou for posting this audio recording,which I very much enjoyed listening to,I learnt lot and will go back and listen to it many times. Although I am not qualified to comment on some of it, I agree whole heartedly with your's and Doug's comments on how entrepeneurial thinking should be woven in to the national curiculum,so that this way of thinking could be encouraged and nurtured. There is whole 'other' area of education to be explored that would really capture young peoples imagination and make sense of why they are learing it. When I think of many successful people, I try to imagine what they were like at school, and a 'following the rules' type of person does not sping to mind! Well done Rachael, my respect for you increases the more I find out about you. I was sorry not to hear James Caan speak as well.

Dan Martin said...

A fascinating discussion and it's good to see that MPs are taking note of entrepreneurs who have been there and done it.

The fact that political parties don't draw more on the experience of business owners is where the whole problem lies in my view. Services like Business Link are mainly staffed by people who've no experience of running a business. Get more entrepreneurs involved and the situation will improve.

Stephen said...

The best Entrepreneurs are the ones that whatever the conditions -still come up smelling of roses.

You can't teach this at school, or an MBA college course or what not. No tax incentives, handouts or allowances matter to them.

Entrpreneurism is a configuration of knowledge and pragmatics, that has been distilled and refined through experience. Aptitude plays a big part and also social conditioning as a child.

When i hear these kinds of conversations i always remember two hard won facts. Firstly - YOU SHOULD ALWAYS KNOW WHO YOUR MARKET IS. Don't get up in the morning if you don't TRULY know you market.

How many small businesses can truly say that?????????

Secondly, if you are an entrepreneur, you don't need dependencies in order to survive and YOU ALWAYS PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS.

I don't have an o'level to rub together and frankly wouldn't waste my life away trying to get one.

Time is money.

Stephen said...

ps. i switched the commentary off as soon as i heard the smarmy presenter (who presumably has 24 o'levels in being up himself), tried to shame Rachel of her RLD connection at the beginning of the discussion.

Presumably ensuring that she was sufficiently discredited prior to her ever opening her mouth.

I tell you what, context is everything - and those forums are nothing more than talking shops for the dull and do-nothings.

You watch... In the coming years you are going to see kids coming out of the woodwork on the Net and they are going to make a fortune.

They don't need any handouts. The commercial world is going to be liberated by the young!

Leona said...

You can say that again, I know 2, 15 year olds currently in business. Both are very capable. I had no clue to their age until they told me.

If we had grown up with the internet I am sure we would have gone into business earlier as well.

Stephen said...

Personally, i believe it is a waste of time trying to put Britains failing businesses right.
It will certainly take more than Dragons!

Many of these businesses are riddled with incompetent managers and old boy networks that largely limit the return on investment to shareholders.

In a global economy, they are like a cancer in the commercial centres of activity that effectively skew the perspective of performance and mislead the shareholders as to the real situation surrounding their investments.

I have plenty of experience spotting these people in business. They are like roadblocks that no one can shift, but as long as there are enough numbers for them to move around - they still have sufficient time before the markets find them out for what they really are. Incompetent, unimaginative, useless liars.

That's where the Internet sets the men away from the old boys. Its all about smarts, not personality or social class.

Right, i'm off to bed now!!!! Got to get off this blog sometime and go and get some cash. cya!

Chris (MCC) said...

What a positive chap...

I'm no expert but I do think entrepreneurship is something in someone. The gut feelings that make us tick.

However education is good for others to help understand us, that could help eg. Banks. But most importantly reduce that failure rate, by people not understanding the basics, I was one. But I learnt from my mistakes but at a cost. How many people fall in that trap for silly basic things and lose everything. Then what support do non entrepreneurs give saying told you so because they are a negative sole with zero experience.
Can we improve all this. Yes. If we can reduce the failure rate by 10 percent, is good, think of the money that won't be lost. Or the other hand how many will be more successful!

Have a nice day all...

Stephen said...

Entrpreneurs only have themselves to blame when something goes wrong. Once they understand that - then they are stronger. What they don't need is people rubbing their noses in it.

On the education front... the whole thing is overrated. My son has learnt more in 2 months working in a electo garage than he ever would in 10 years at college. He has twice the confidence of people who go to school all day.

College is an artificial place for kids who cannot get jobs (or lazy kids) and for educators who wouldn't get jobs in industry.

We had this in the video games industry. Guys came out of university and they were next to useless in the workplace. But the professors still got paid??????

Funnily enough, the guys who only had experience were twice as useful as the guys with all the qualifications. I reckon black board education makes morons out of people.

We should get back to the days when our kids could hit the ground in the workplace rather being brainwashed like the Cambridge toffs (who don't want to do any real work anyway).

that's what i think anyway..

Anonymous said...

I have to dissagree on this one Stephen, my eldest daughter is staying on to do A levels and after hopes to attend university to study a combined Law/French degree. She has done her work experience last year at a solicitors and made a decision this year to write to the same solicitor asking for a job during the summer, and which she got. So she is not lazy and a moron, in fact I believe quite the opposite. My other daughter (younger) wants to do a vocational course afetr GCSE's, but is unsure as what she would like to do, but she is a real grafter. It is each to there own, but, yes some do go to university and study some weird superflouos subjects!!


Stephen said...

yes, i understand.

My points were aimed at the development of entrepreneurs, as opposed to people who prefer to tread much safer paths, such as solicitors and the like.

Rachel Elnaugh said...

The enterprise training does not have to be in a classroom, I am sure if entrepreneurs were commissioned to create schemes they would be a little more innovative than that!

As to 'true' entrepreneurs not needing any guidance, I am an ambassador for the Princes Trust and some of their greatest success stories have been about supporting and encouraging the most difficult of teenagers which the education system had long since written off.

Stephen said...

yes, sorry about that Rachel. Bit OTT and cavalier there.

I just see so many kids heading into the academic space with no real direction and no real option in their heads.

There is so much money to be made on the net and they have the technical skills. Yet they have blind spots when it comes to moneterization.

Really quite infuriating!