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!