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There is now a record number 4.8 million small businesses in the UK, according to the Business secretary Vince Cable and in Scotland the number of new starts during the first quarter of 2013 was said to be 2,974 by The Committee of Scottish Bankers quarterly report. This was up on the previous quarter, but like all stats it could be read as down by looking a little further back.
There is no denying that, due to the financial crisis there have been an increasing number of high calibre individuals starting their own businesses who otherwise may not have done so. We need to hope that these start-ups get the support to develop their ideas before the warmth of a “safe secure job” lures them back into employment.
Why should you care? Well the increasing number of highly professionally trained new start business owners is a growth market you may need to pay attention to. Not only can new customers emerge but also nibble footed competitors.
It is obvious is it not, leaving aside any political persuasions, that if Scotland is to stand on its own two feet then we must nourish the entrepreneurial culture. The 2012 GEM report from the University of Strathclyde suggests that one of the key areas where Scots fall behind international competitors is in Start-up Skills and Attitudes. This is where Liberty intends to help by providing a free Start up initiative for new businesses called The Acorn Enterprise initiative, which will consist of a free Collaborative Office environment and a 20 week structured development programme, hosted at the Liberty Hubspace in Rosyth.
When I started out with my own small roofing material business in 2001 there were no collaborative environments where you could work alongside peers, it was a lonely experience. Even when I approached a local Fife based Innovation Centre to rent an office I was told we weren’t innovative enough to be allowed to rent an office from them so was turned away!
The Acorn Initiative starts in September and has the main objective of helping to create a sound footing for new emerging businesses. These business owners don’t need to be stellar entrepreneurs in order to get on the programme. The business ideas don’t have to be “off the wall”, normal businesses are a huge part of our economy and also need supporting.
Ask yourself, how can your business help Scotland’s new starts? How about through providing mentorship, financial assistance, providing the right contacts or by supporting The Princess Trust and other local initiatives. We can all do our bit.
If you want to be involved with the Acorn Initiative either as an attendee or in a supportive role then please get in touch. www.acornenterprise.co.uk
I have to add one last thing, we bought the very same Fife based “Innovation Centre” last December and it is very exciting that our small mundane Roofing material business is finally taking some office and warehouse space in there later this month, twelve years after our initial enquiry.