By Daniel Hunter
As the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham drew to its close, David Cameron was reported as celebrating the resurgence of the UK’s entrepreneurial streak, saying last year the rate of new business creation had been the fastest on record.
Yesterday’s Financial Times reported that the country now has a record 4.5m businesses, with a staggering 99.5 per cent of them being small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). These account for 59 per cent of private sector employment and 49 per cent of total business turnover in 2011, making them the mainstay of the UK’s economy.
Serial British tech entrepreneur and Chairman and CEO of mPowa, Dan Wagner, said: “Clearly it is small businesses that must lead the UK out of the recession and into resurgent growth. A growing number of these are tech start-ups, which face particular difficulties. We are still a nation powered by ideas, and have so many bright people who are also entrepreneurial enough to start up their own businesses. However, our fledgling companies need far better support in the initial stages than they are currently receiving, and no government yet has shown by its actions that it truly understands what is required.”
Dan has already built three leading tech businesses. However he found he had to take his first business, which eventually sold for $500,000,000, initially to the United States in order to get it off the ground. Dan continues: “Tech companies in particular need the right conditions in order to flourish, including a supportive infrastructure and a creative, risk-taking culture. Access to funds ranks highly amongst these, and this is still markedly more difficult in the UK than in the States and other enterprise-friendly countries. Incentives need to be put in place to unlock the reserves of private funding which exist and make them flow into these small enterprises which need them to survive and grow.”
Since setting up his first business, Dan has grown two more in the UK. These flourished, showing that tech start-ups can succeed here as well. However, Dan believes they succeeded despite, rather than because of, conditions prevailing at the time.
Dan concludes: “The UK has a tremendously valuable opportunity to turn around its fortunes by becoming a hub of tech businesses, tapping into countless small business owners’ creativity, dynamism and willingness to put in the sheer hard graft needed to build a successful business. This can indeed help lead the UK out of recession and into growth again, but the unique type of individuals willing and able to grow these businesses will leave the UK and build their fortunes elsewhere if they are not given the right kind of encouragement.”
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