What a long way we have come. I can remember when we administered the first £1million. It seemed like a huge milestone. It seems like only yesterday we had provided loans to 5,000 businesses and now we have passed the 10,000th milestone. We should be very proud of what we have achieved, but there is still a long way to go...
Realising the entrepreneur within could be the act of turning your passion or hobby into a business, spotting a gap in the market and fund-raising to fill it, or coming up with a new way of working or product line for a company in which you're an employee. The entrepreneurial instinct, I believe, is in everyone - the only thing that differs is what you decide to do with it.
While working as a consultant in London a few years ago, I remember it as a "suit city" like New York. However, over the past two years, a lot of investment has been committed to change this - as evidenced by the Sirius Programme. This shows that the British government is taking this movement sirius-ly and will support its growth over the coming years.
In an age when the pitch-stage governs the start of most businesses, how can entrepreneurs make sure their ideas are quickly and clearly communicated? Start-ups need to attract new visitors to their website but, rather than encouraging people to simply purchase a product, they also need to engage with prospective investors.
Only 10% of the companies in Tech City are financial services focussed. That doesn't sound like enough to me given the London's status as a financial centre. It raises the question as to whether the Government should be focusing on financial technology start-ups and working out how to create an environment in which these companies can thrive.
Being a successful entrepreneur and angel investor, I have seen my share of business plans. I'm still waiting to have one land on my desk where I don't have to ask a multitude of questions to get the whole picture. So where do people go wrong and what can a new business or start-up do differently when putting their plan together?
The recession, it seems, has increased the desirability of joining, continuing (or even restarting) a family-run business, which can often escape problems around financing, leadership and decision-making (even if arguments may get a little bit more heated). So can tradition, family ties and heritage still resonate with the UK's young entrepreneurs?
What can we do here in Britain to foster innovation and entrepreneurship in order to give our companies the best chance to succeed on the world stage? This is a question that we as a country need to answer if we are to remain an economic powerhouse, and with a multitude of emerging economies breathing down our necks, it's a question we need to answer quickly.
One of the biggest challenges for young people today is a fear of failure - they tend to be risk averse. Failure in the UK is frowned upon whereas in the USA it is far more widely accepted - for many investors a failure or two are known to add worldly experience and potentially make them a more likely investment as they will have learnt from their failures.
Government must engage with these businesses to secure the future sustainable growth of our economy. These business leaders have weathered arguably the worst recession in the last century and come out as survivors. As one such business leader I feel it's high time that we focus on these 'champions' of industry,