I interview leading entrepreneurs and write about public policy.
I'm Programmes Director at The Entrepreneurs Network, a think tank designed to bring entrepreneurs to the forefront of political discourse and help make Britain the best place in the world to start and grow a business. We are based within the world-renowned Adam Smith Institute and were set up with the support of Octopus Investments. Prior to starting The Entrepreneurs Network, I was Entrepreneurs Editor and a Business Features Writer at City A.M., where I interviewed many of Britain’s leading entrepreneurs. Speaking with hundreds of business owners made me aware that the views of entrepreneurs aren’t properly represented in the public policy process and that many remain unfamiliar with government schemes that are designed to help them.
There's a Sheryl Sandberg quote that springs to mind every time I attend events to boost female entrepreneurship: "In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders." It's a sentiment frequently echoed by the female founders I encounter at our events. They don't see themselves as "female entrepreneurs". "Entrepreneurs" will do.
The decision by the Chancellor to scrap the Autumn Statement altogether was also welcome - fewer Budgets will mean entrepreneurs can better plan for the future. We now wait for the weightier Spring Budget to see if Philip Hammond will take real action to cut the most destructive taxes and simplify incentives to boost UK entrepreneurship.
Many UK entrepreneurs still don't see the benefit of gaining external funding, and fear diluting their businesses and relinquishing control to investors. I believe it's worth having a smaller piece of a much bigger pie. However, more and more US VCs are keeping a close eye on European technological innovation and an even closer eye on the UK. The opportunity is there: all we need now is a business culture willing to take bigger risks.
Whatever the outcome, entrepreneurial activity will continue to improve the lives of individuals and communities across the country. The government must put policies in place to ensure that our entrepreneurs continue to prosper - In or Out.
Further, he believes capital gains tax on secondary unlisted shares that align with the new Entrepreneurs' Relief should be set at 10 per cent, or exempt after three years. "We believe there are over 3,000 established UK companies with 500,000 shareholders and £300bn of locked-in equity. Recycling a portion of this would be a huge boost to the sector," he says.
When I first meet serial entrepreneur and beauty junkie Nancy Cruickshank, I feel it only right to confess that my morning routine involves slapping on E45, that, aged 30, I have never had a facial and that the only thing in my makeup bag is a blusher whose make evades me.
Successful entrepreneurs often find themselves pigeonholed by conventional assumptions and stereotypes. Oft viewed as obsessive workaholics, they are seemingly afflicted with a ruthless tenacity and single-mindedness verging on the blinkered. Movies like The Social Network or TV shows such as The Apprentice haven't helped. Neither has Donald Trump's showmanship.
First came a Summer Budget introducing a National Living Wage and a tax on share dividends. Then an Autumn Statement more notable for small businesses for what wasn't included than for what was. It's hardly surprising, therefore, that entrepreneurs were expecting a bit more from the Chancellor this time.
The government's plans would see prohibitions limiting large stores from opening on Sundays for more than six hours lifted in certain circumstances. The decision would be devolved to local leaders across England and Wales (Scotland and Ireland already have powers over Sunday trading devolved to their regional parliaments).
I already knew snippets of the Smith story - that Lohan created the boutique hotel website with her husband, for example, or that she had earned an MBE for services to the travel industry. What I didn't know was that she had recently became an angel investor, that she finds time to do the morning school run every day despite working full time, and that she never set out to be an entrepreneur.
We often hear of entrepreneurs struggling to access finance, of banks not lending and VCs predominantly investing in male-led tech companies. The tenacity with which Tenison approached financing goes some way to explaining why she's has been so successful.
Through roundtables, reports and larger events, we will bridge the gap between future gazelles and the venture community. We will give angel investors, banks and venture capitalists reason to look outside their own, male-led groups. And, importantly, there won't be a pink banner in sight.