Off To See My Lawyer
'Oven-Ready' Document Shop Click here to sign up for our latest updates

Posts Tagged ‘entrepreneurship’

Is British Entrepreneurship suffering?

Monday, May 7th, 2012

USA and Australia topped the recent Global Entrepreneurial and Development Index, whereas the UK only came only 14th.  The Financial Times’ Jonathan Moules commented with surprise that the UK had even come below Austria and Belgium!

On a positive note, the UK was among the best in the world for the number of start-ups it creates (– particularly technology companies); the quality of the founding teams; and the capacity to launch new products without any peers.

However the UK has arguably been more significantly affected by the financial crisis than other nations, and as a result British businesses lack early-stage investment.  In the ranking for the number of individuals who have invested informally in other people’s start-ups in the past three years, the UK falls into the bottom quarter of OECD nations.

In addition, research suggests that in cultural terms, the British do not perceive entrepreneurship as a good career choice.  Erkko Autio (Professor in Technology Transfer and Entrepreneurship at Imperial College) said the UK could significantly improve its position if measures introduced to encourage early-stage investment resulted in more investors committing capital.  “The one thing we are pretty sure about is that it is not [a problem of] over-regulation,” he added.  “It is more about the [need to change] cultural and social norms.”

Event: Business Advice Clinic

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

For impartial business advice and an opportunity to discuss your business at a confidential, hour-long one-to-one meeting with an experienced advisor, the British Library Business and IP Centre will be running a Business Advice Clinic on Wednesday 2 May 2012, 10:30 to 17:00.  It costs £15 to attend.  For further information, and to book on-line, follow the link: http://www.bl.uk/bipc/workevents/lbssclinics.html

Female Entrepreneur Focus: Karren Brady

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

You probably recognise Karren Brady from the BBC’s popular series The Apprentice.

Starting her career in advertising at the tender age of 18, she first worked at Saatchi & Saatchi and then Sport Newspapers Ltd where she became Director within a year.  In 1993, aged 23 she bought and became the Managing Director of Birmingham City Football Club, launching the Club on the Stock market in 1997 – becoming in the process the youngest Managing Director of a PLC in the UK.  Despite undergoing an operation for a brain aneurysm in 2006, Brady went from strength to strength in the business world; and when she sold her business in 2009, it was valued at over £82million.

From then on, her list of credentials is so numerous, it almost becomes tedious!  In January 2010 she was appointed Vice Chairman of West Ham United FC, generating a trading profit for the first time in several years.  In addition she has been on the Boards of various companies and enterprises such as Mothercare PLC, Channel 4 Television and Arcadia.

She has been the subject of a BBC 1 Inside Story documentary; participated in the aforementioned The Apprentice; featured on Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs; presented shows on ITV; written four books; worked as a columnist at The Sun newspaper and Women & Home magazine; launched her own magazine Today’s Business Woman; and won numerous awards.  She also works as Ambassador for various charities.

Karren Brady is now estimated to be worth £82 million ($131 million).  In her latest book, Strong Woman: Ambition, Grit and a Great Pair of Heels, she admits she only took three days off after the birth of her first child, and that it was wrong of her to prioritise her career over her family.  She stresses that women should not succumb to pressures of “having it all” as she has done in the past.  Off To See My Lawyer quite agree, but at the same time we cannot help but admire what she has achieved!

Event: Getting To Grips With Finance Workshop

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Where: O2 Workshop, 229 Tottenham Court Road , London W1T 7QG

When: 12 June 2012 from 10:00 to 14:00

How much: £65.00

Johnny Martin has extensive experience turning around businesses such as Baring Venture Partners, JO Hambro and Monument Trust.

Mr Martin will be leading the Getting To Grips Workshop, offering financial advice for setting up a business, working with accountants, raising capital, and cash flow management. Attendees are asked to bring their laptops!

To book your place, visit: www.women-unlimited.co.uk/getting-to-grips-with-finance-worksho/ (Note that for £65, you will not only get to attend the workshop, but you will receive a few added extras and bonuses!)

Sarah Cressall: The Creation Station

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

On 29 March of this year, Sarah Cressall was announced as “Woman Franchisor of the Year” at the 2011 Encouraging Women Into Franchising Awards.

Sarah Cresswell is a true inspiration for female entrepreneurs for so many different reasons.  In 2002 she came up with the idea of setting up The Creation Station, aimed at nurturing children’s creativity through fun arts and crafts activities with their parents/carers, and in such a way that minimises any stress or burden for the parents/carers.  Since 2002 Ms Cresswell has successfully overcome various obstacles (such as suppliers going bust) in order to develop her business into what it is today.  In an interview last year she stated, “You can either look at things as challenges or opportunities”.

While we commend Ms Cresswell for successfully setting up and running her own business, Off To See My Lawyer is especially impressed by the nature of her work.  She explains, “We run different types of workshops…   We also run art and craft birthday parties, events for organisations like the brownies, events and fetes for charities.”

While offering valuable services for parents bringing up their children, The Creation Station is now a franchise which offers parents the opportunity to become franchisees of the business and generate their own income.  Ms Cresswell says, “It’s designed specifically for mothers.  It’s flexible. There are some mothers with six-month-olds who do two mornings and others whose children have started school and may want to work four or five mornings.  The business allows time for family life. As they grow and get more confident, franchisees can employ people to run the business.”  Franchisees are given assistance and training to help them run their business, and are supplied with arts and crafts materials, session plans (based on government educational guidelines), a uniform, an admin pack, a web page and materials such as bags and stationery.

If you have an existing business which you wish to develop and expand into a franchise, please consult Jo Tall at jo@offtoseemylawyer.comOff To See My Lawyer does not only deal with start-ups!  Similarly if you are thinking of becoming a franchisee and need legal advice, Jo will be only too happy to assist.

Crowdfunding – a viable alternative for raising capital?

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Aiming to bring businesses and backers together, US crowdfunding site Kickstarter specialises in film, art and design.  It allows for people to pitch ideas for which they need financial backing, and for potential backers to come forward with offers.  A deadline is set by which a certain funding target must be met.  If it is not met, backers’ pledges are returned and no money transactions take place.  And if the funding target is met, the party who has pitched its project retains complete creative control, but Kickstarter retains 5% of the total funds raised.  The backers are given a role in the development of the product; the right to give feedback on its progress; and a copy of the finished product.

Justin Kazmark (Communications Director at Kickstarter) explains, “There’s always a value exchange between creators and the backers that pledge financial support to a project.  In exchange for pledging, backers receive creative rewards, one of a kind experiences and behind-the-scenes access to the creative process as the project comes to life.

Kickstarter was founded on the idea that there is value in the world beyond things that can make money. Ideas should be able to exist because people feel an affinity toward them, not because of the promise of profit.”

San Francisco-based developer Double Fine Productions has successfully raised a phenomenal amount of money by pitching the idea for their game “Double Fine Adventure” on Kickstarter.  It took a mere eight hours for the required £250,000 to be raised by thousands of on-line backers; but people continued to contribute funds for several weeks.  The final amount raised reached £2 million ($3.3 million), and the number of backers exceeded 87,000.  The game will now be developed for the next six to eight months and will be available on PC, Mac, Linux, iOS and android.

Greg Rice (Producer of “Double Fine Adventure”) enthuses, “Kickstarter allowed us direct communication with our fans and ultimately means we’ll be able to make the game we want and also directly benefit from it financially.”  He states that crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter are “getting more and more important…  It’s truly amazing that people with a great idea now have a way to fund making those ideas come true and are able to do that by speaking directly to their customers.”

New legislation in the USA,  the “Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act” will allow backers to own equity in the companies they invest in and let those businesses raise up to $1million (£600,000) through crowdfunding websites such as Kickstarter.

In Britain, one crowdfunding website is already offering equity to investors without the need for any change in the law.  Exeter-based Crowdcube launched last year and has already funded 15 projects, raising £2.8million.

Crowdcube vets in-coming business plans, and presents the approved ones on its website in a video clip, awaiting offers from potential backers.  Crowdcube functions in a similar way to Kickstarter, in that it takes a 5% fee on pitches that reach their target.

Luke Lang (Co-founder of Crowdcube) boasts, “We’ve completely democratised the whole investment industry…  We’re trying to make investing in business easy and inclusive rather than it being the exclusive preserve of the elite who have got lots of money or lots of experience…  We’ve broken down those barriers and enabled ordinary people with modest amounts of money to get behind small businesses.”

Crowdcube’s greatest success story is the £1 million which was raised for the Rushmore Group to build a new private members’ club in London.

There are other crowdfunding sites such as London-based PleaseFund.Us, which has raised around £100,000 for projects since it launched last September.

Could Britain be spawning a new generation of entrepreneurs?

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

British educational institutions are increasingly encouraging students to launch their own businesses by providing bursary schemes and training courses in entrepreneurship.  For example the University College of London runs a technology entrepreneurship masters programme – and it offers a one-year scholarship, where students with existing business concepts can test their ideas to see whether they will work.

If British Universities are successful in their endeavours to produce a new generation of entrepreneurs, the UK economy will of course benefit.  One thing to bear in mind, however, is the fact not all University students in the UK are British.  Therefore the UK Border Agency has just launched a graduate entrepreneurs’ visa, in order to enable non-EU students to remain in the country for an additional 12 months after graduating, if they have an idea for a business venture.

There is a long-held belief that American culture fosters entrepreneurship more readily than European.  Due to the relatively weak welfare state and liberal free-market economy of the USA, Americans are perhaps more inclined than Europeans towards starting enterprises of their own, and taking risks.  The Fulbright Commission are promoting an educational exchange programme with the UCL, for American students interested in enrolling on the UCL’s technology entrepreneurship masters programme.  It may seem a little perverse that American students are being encouraged to come to the UK to learn about entrepreneurship.  However, by enticing foreign talent into the UK and facilitating their chances of staying, Britain may start to lead a new wave in entrepreneurship!  Only time will tell…

Social Media Strategy Workshop

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Social media such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and You Tube have proved invaluable as conduits for successful on-line businesses.  Julie Hall (founder of Women Unlimited and Springmedia), will be running a workshop aimed to introduce you to this subject, and provide you with basic operational know-how – so perhaps you too could become a social media entrepreneur!

The workshop will take place on 15 May 2012 from 10:00 to 16:00, at O2 Workshop, 229 Tottenham Court Road, London, W1T 7QG; and costs £125.

If you are interested in attending, you can book a place via this link: http://www.women-unlimited.co.uk/social-media-strategy-workshop

Female Entrepreneur Focus: Sarah Turner

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

Off To See My Lawyer are cheered to hear about yet another woman who has turned an adverse situation into a business!

It was only two years ago that Sarah Turner was first diagnosed with breast cancer, and had to undergo chemotherapy which caused her hair to fall out.  Dissatisfied with the existing market for unflattering headwear and uncomfortable wigs, Ms Turner decided to come up with her own designs and pitch them to various British milliners.  She now runs her own on-line business, Elizabeth Rose (http://www.elizabethroselondon.com/) selling fashion-led headwear for women with hair loss.  Ms Turner writes on her website, “I am delighted to be able to give you an exciting seasonal collection twice a year.  My aim is to bring you style and a little bit of joy and confidence back.”

Off To See My Lawyer would be interested to hear from you if, like Ms Turner, you have a good idea for a product and the necessary motivation to market and sell it – but perhaps lack the skills and resources to actually manufacture the product in the first place.  We now have such an admirable client base of female entrepreneurs, we may be able to help you source an appropriate business associate to complement your own skills!  For any such assistance, please contact Jo Tall at jo@offtoseemylawyer.com.

Feeling positive? Ready to take a risk?!

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

We all know that Britain’s economy is in need of a boost, and the optimistic among us expect a renaissance at some point in the not-too-distant future!  Amid this tense anticipation, more and more alternative funding options, and attractive business savings account deals are emerging – so now could be a good time for businesses to “shop around” for advantageous deals.

Partly as a means of encouraging a resurgence in business activity in the UK; and partly in the hope of capitalising on the future success of UK businesses, Britain’s high street banks and building societies are vigorously promoting their business savings accounts.  Business savings accounts are in fact expected to grow by about 25% over the next five years.

In addition you may wish to consider the loan services of reputable organisations other than banks, such as Funding Circle.  Since its foundation in 2010, Funding Circle has loaned more than £28million to 670 British businesses.  Funding Circle has recently received a £10million boost, as it is now being backed by Index Ventures and Union Square Ventures.