Get on the bus: UK business tour aims to spark startup spirit
Enterprise trek to provide crucial advice for bosses of early-stage firms, as figures show annual startup rates have hit record levels
A rock-star solution for pumping up the UK’s passion for enterprise has taken to the road this week, with the launch of the StartUp Britain tour: a nationwide bus trip in which business leaders who’ve made a splash will show budding bosses the ropes.
Backed by think tank the Centre for Entrepreneurs (CFE), the tour aims to provide a wealth of advice and support to around 15,000 aspiring and early-stage entrepreneurs in 25 locations across Britain. The trek began in London’s Downing Street on Monday (see picture), and is scheduled to end in Inverness on 7 August.
CFE’s StartUp Britain campaign was first unveiled in March 2011 to raise awareness of enterprise, as Prime Minister David Cameron identified entrepreneurs as crucial to rebalancing the jobs market and restoring UK economic growth. There are signs that it’s working: according to CFE, since 2011, annual startup rates have risen from 440,600 to last year’s record-breaking 581,173.
With the horsepower of a retrofitted 1966 Routemaster bus (donated by NatWest) under its belt, StartUp Britain director Matt Smith assures that this year, “The mission remains exactly the same: to inspire people to turn their business ideas into action, to celebrate entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial communities across Britain, and to raise awareness of national and local support available to entrepreneurs.”
He added: “We've tried to balance big cities with smaller towns; those regularly visited with those never visited; those with thriving entrepreneurial communities with those most in need of entrepreneurship … We have a great range of advisors, mentors and entrepreneurs joining the bus in each location.”
Start Up Britain works in partnership with the £310 million, government-funded Start Up Loans scheme, which enables business owners to borrow up to £25,000 over five years at a preferential interest rate of around 6%. Indeed, Start Up Loans will be onboard the bus to hail the success of its loan recipients and give advice to aspiring entrepreneurs. Other organisations in the field that have lined up in the bus queue for key roles on the tour are Upwork (formerly Elance), Entrepreneurial Spark, Entrepreneurs’ Forum, Hot500 and BizBritain.
Lee Perkins, managing director of tour sponsor Sage, told the Telegraph that he hopes the tour will spark business imaginations across the whole nation – not just London and the South East. “The country needs to expand its investment to focus on skills and infrastructure beyond the capital,” he argued. “We can’t wait to meet some of the UK’s hottest entrepreneurial talent.”
StartUp Britain is not the only enterprise roadshow underway this summer – the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) has one of its own, in the shape of its Growing Your Small Business talks. Readers can find out more about that initiative in this article, and full details of upcoming events in the series are available here.
Image courtesy of StartUp Britain.