Startup Britain - Pulling the Levers that Matter

Start up Britain We're pretty lucky here at FreeAgent: we love helping people run businesses, and it turns out that there are an awful lot of people struggling with doing just that.

At the core of FreeAgent is our belief that anyone should be able to run a small business, so we follow closely anything that could help or hinder on that score.

For example we tracked last week's budget very intently; live-tweeting the key points (@freeagent) as they arose and then providing some analysis of what this meant for our users.

I'm not one for government initiatives on the whole, but I was intrigued at the time by a sketchy reference to something called StartUp Britain.

All was revealed at today's launch event in London this morning, reassuringly not just a Cameron/Osborne double-act but supported by some of the leading lights of the UK business community including Enterprise Nation's Emma Jones (whose lawyers hopefully won't mind me describing as 'the Energizer Bunny™ of small-business lobbying'!) and Jamie Murray Wells, founder and CEO of Glasses Direct.

Beyond the oversized Union Flags and the rhetoric, the StartupBritain website offers somewhat more style than substance at the moment, but appears to have the potential to evolve into a credible and coherent destination for entrepreneurs-to-be.

In the meantime, it's been in for some serious stick (via - where else? - Twitter hashtag #startupbritain) over the dominance of 'big brand' supporters like Google and O2 offering some fairly unremarkable special offers. The creative industry has also been distracted by the spectacular own-goal of a logo-design offer linked to a US-based crowdsourcing outfit. Ahem.

I believe all this misses the point, which is the Startup Britain team’s real-world experience, energy and passion, and their unswerving belief that Entrepreneurship and Enterprise (yes, with capital E's) are the key to the UK’s economic recovery. I share that belief, and am mightily impressed by their ability to get a Government and a stack of corporate sponsors on board to further their agenda.

That's how big, worthwhile stuff gets done sometimes: having a real understanding of the politics behind these organisations, and being able to pull the levers to your own ends. Great timing helps, too.

The end result will, I hope, drive an actual and measurable shift in the public perception of Entrepreneurship in the UK - away from the mystical and the unhelpfully dramatised (Dragons Den, I'm looking at you) and towards the mainstream. Eminently do-able. Normal.

Now that would be Progress!

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