Young people continue to create Britain's brands of the future. I have founded businesses as a recent graduate and many people I looked up to did exactly the same. Richard Reed of Innocent Smoothies, James Dyson, and James Murray-Wells of Glasses Direct founded their businesses as recent graduates.
Starting a business is not easy and from my experience, students need a clear and pragmatic route to finding the right investment and support. The government can support this by continuing its efforts to create as fertile ground as possible for ambitious, entrepreneurial graduates.
That is why I wanted to put pen to paper and create a manifesto. It reflects what we believe the UK needs to do in order to unleash the power of its young entrepreneurs and match the talent in our universities with the appropriate financial and operational support. I absolutely do not think that everyone should be looking to start their own business but those that do deserve the best possible chance to succeed.
I work with both young business founders and investors day in and day out. Through this, I have identified some very specific changes that will really make a difference to Britain's start-up community. There are three key areas where change is necessary. In a nutshell, I think there should be:
- More opportunities to get in and out of early-stage investments
- Enhanced education for all stakeholders about the risks and rewards of early-stage businesses and a culture
- Enhanced by government policy that celebrates and champions start-ups.
Today finance is the beginning, and all too often the end, for new businesses. When I first started to set up my own company there was no pragmatic, tailored signposting for me to get funding. It's vital to make it clearer what sources of finance are available and make them as accessible as possible. I also think it needs to be easier for both investor and investee to secure a profitable return by making it simpler to get money out of an early-stage investment.
However, there is no point creating more liquid markets without the right people to underpin them. Business has traditionally taken the product of education, but hasn't always contributed to its creation. What I really see working is a closer, more direct relationship between commerce and education. This would enable our schools and universities to better develop the building blocks for a career in business.
There is also more we can do to celebrate our successful entrepreneurs and create an environment where everyone involved is fêted - not just the celeb few. Of course this type of culture isn't created by legislation and it cannot be changed overnight. It requires all parts of the start-up community to work together to engender entrepreneurialism and inspire the next generation of business leaders.
The proposals I have laid out call for very specific and detailed changes that I know from first-hand experience will make a real difference. I believe they are the key to unlocking a successful future for British business, today.
If you would like to know more about the changes we are championing you can download it at http://www.findinvestgrow.com/the-fig-manifesto/