Small businesses and entrepreneurs are the fuel for the UK’s economic engine.
SMEs make up 99.9% of all private sector businesses in the UK and employ more than 18 million people.
These businesses - and the people who work in them drive every part of our economy. Despite perception, the UK’s entrepreneurs and business owners are not clustered in certain sectors. SMEs account for at least 99% of the businesses in every main industry.
Now in 2019 we face another Global Entrepreneurship Week in which the spectre of an unresolved Brexit debate still hangs over our startup ecosystem. The time has come for the government to present clear and workable plans for UK business post Brexit.
Our startups and SMEs are already experiencing the negative impact of the threat of 'no-deal.' Business investment fell for four consecutive quarters last year. EY has confirmed the bill for no-deal planning among financial services companies alone has reached £4bn.
The impact on small and early-stage ventures can be much more severe, even terminal.
Protecting our achievements
Over the past 20 years, we have experienced an entrepreneurial renaissance in the UK - made possible by effective collaboration between policymakers and the UK enterprise community.
There are two million more small businesses in the UK now than in 2000 and there has been sustained year on year growth in the total business population. These things don’t happen by accident.
Here at the Global Entrepreneurship Week campaign, over the past decade (and a bit more) we’ve been proud to act as a catalyst for this change and a platform for celebration. But this year, talk to any UK small business and the conversation is focused on only one thing.
As things stand we may or may not have left the EU - and may, in 2019, be celebrating GEW outside of the block for the first time.
Uncertainty around our exit from the European Union has reached an unacceptable level for our entrepreneurs and has the potential to throw them into a tailspin and undo years of hard work. and damage our reputation as one of the best places in the world to start a business.
Last year we released the 2018 Global Entrepreneurship Index, alongside our partners at the GEDI Institute.
The Index shows that despite our comparative strength - the UK ranks #4 of 130+ countries globally - significant weakness and imbalances in our ecosystem are holding back growth.
In fact, improving the conditions for entrepreneurs and startups in the UK still further could add $370 billion to the economy.
Connecting the UK during GEW 2019
This year we are again launching the #GoGlobal campaign as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week 2019 - to help aspiring UK entrepreneurs connect with their peers across Europe as a direct rejection the forces in British life which seem to favour loss of these connections in favour of wrongheaded isolationism.
In 2020 and beyond we will focus on developing the enabling environment for small business and place innovation and connectivity at the centre of our new economic reality.
Issues like digital connectivity, tax regime, low costs of start-up entry, accessible technology and a flexible economy or of course significant but they don't tell the whole story.
Our shared positive attitude towards self-starters and entrepreneurship; from the media, corporates, government and in wider society, while harder to quantify, is just as significant.
The best place in the world to start a business
I’ve had the honour to work within these communities and see first hand the sheer volume of start-up support available in every corner of the country. This country’s start-up clusters and thriving business ecosystems are a true national asset which must be protected as fiercely as larger industry.
Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) exists to support and grow our shared ecosystem, and to connect it to other likeminded communities overseas. Be they in Europe or beyond.
In November more than 10 million people in`170+ countries will join with hundreds of thousands of people in the UK to celebrate GEW. These local, national and global efforts connect entrepreneurs at all stages to potential collaborators, mentors and investors to help them start and scale innovative new businesses.
Together this wide-ranging effort unleashes an estimated £100 million of support to entrepreneurs through members and partners of the Global Entrepreneurship Network.
As we move into a period in which we’re warned to expect a ‘rollercoaster ride’, the importance of remaining open and connected to the world has never been greater for our outward looking small business community.
Global Entrepreneurship Week provides a perfect platform for the UK ecosystem to develop crucial skills, connect to the wider world and ensure that we retain our hard won place as one the best places in the world for businesses to flourish and grow.