Enterprise Nation members air their views on small business growth at the Treasury

Enterprise Nation members air their views on small business growth at the Treasury
Dan Martin
Dan MartinDan Martin Content & Events

Posted: Fri 29th Jun 2018

In a piece for the Telegraph on Tuesday morning, Liz Truss MP proclaimed "I aim to be the disrupter in chief". Later that day, a group of Enterprise Nation members and partners were in the chief disruptor's office to discuss small business growth.

"I want to challenge those who aim to block change, stop development and restrict success. I want to challenge the caution that strangles risk-takers and go-getters." the chief secretary to the Treasury wrote.

The perfect message for Enterprise Nation to take a delegation of inspiring and successful entrepreneurs who are out there challenging the norm and changing the world.

They were:

The issues raised:

Social enterprises

Cemal Ezel, who trains homeless people to be coffee baristas and sells coffee in supermarkets and large corporates, called for more support and celebration of businesses with a social or environmental focus.

His business, Change Please, saves the government £18,000 for each homeless person supported.

Ezel urged the encouragement of big companies to open up their supply chain to social enterprises and said the Social Value Act, which calls for the public to factor in economic, social and environmental well-being when awarding contracts, to be extended to products as well as services.


Rishi Gupta, who sells plastic free and organic groceries and essentials, said cost ahd funding is his biggest challenge. He was denied funding by his university for being "too high risk".

Baby food entrepreneur Cat Gazzoli said she has had a very positive experience of investors and praised the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) which gives investors big tax breaks for backing small businesses. She has run businesses in the US and said the UK is a very good environment for running a company.

She called for more diversity of investors though. Her business, Piccolo, has 10% female investors and she could on more entrepreneurs to be more diverse when it comes to angels and venture capitalists.

Dave from White Bruce said the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS), providing tax breaks for investors in early stage companies, is "unfilled potential".

Chris Forbes said he has also benefited from SEIS and EIS and reached £1m turnover for his bamboo toilet paper company. Challenges for bank funding exist though, he said, because they insist on £6m turnover before getting favourable interest rates.

William Shropshire raised the idea of government and pension funds co-investing with private funds to invest in fast growth businesses, particularly those exiting accelerator programmes.


Amy and Chris Cheadle said they face challenges growing their business because they can't find manufacturers willing to take them on.

When approaching factories for their pizza dough brand, they are told they are too small so the company, which is already stocked by Sainsbury's, Ocado and other big retailers, is unable to get new products over the line.

Amy called for incentives for large manufacturers to take on small contracts.


Matthew Reed from Equipsme, which provides health insurance for small companies, called for benefits such as that to be P11d exempt. Offering employee benefits, he said, allows smaller firms to compete for talent in the modern economy.

Liz Truss has called for more entrepreneurs to raise their heads above the parapet and talk about the positives of making a profit but Rob from Charlie HR said: "I'm not sure if we need more big ego entrepreneurs running around." What we need, he said, is more celebration of the first team members at a small business to encourage more people to consider a career at smaller firms.

"It annoys me when smart people take the same old jobs when they could work for an innovative small business", he added.

Jacqui from Goodordering called for more incentives to encourage women back to work. She also raised the issue of the cost of travel relating how she was shocked when her intern told her it costs £25 to travel by train to central London from Ascot.

Joy from Tech Pixies, who helps women returning from work learn digital skills, called for the government to close the pension gap.


Alice from Yawn, who manufactures in India and Portugal and sells in countries including Germany and Ireland, said Brexit has raised costs and was concerned about how she was going to deal with the impact of Britain leaving the European Union.


Darren Upson from expenses management company Soldo said more businesses need to be encouraged to embrace digitisation of record keeping as it improves produces and reduces burdens.

"The challenge is inertia", he said. "Businesses don't know there is a way to do things better."

Business rates

For Olly Olsen, co-founder of co-working space firm The Office Group, rent and business rates is a massive issue. Human interaction for entrepreneurs is vital, he said, but it "has been upsetting" to see smaller businesses going to areas where rent and business rates are cheaper.

He set out to build a community where very small businesses could connect with the bigger ones and vice versa but high business rates in London, where most The Office Group, premises are located, make that challenging.

"It used to be that small businesses had to be near big businesses but now big businesses want to be near the small ones", Olsen added before suggesting the sharing economy is used to provide more cost effective workspaces.

Next generation of entrepreneurs

Richard Fifield has been working with children at a comprehensive school and said there is "a lack of confidence among kids to take risk decisions".

He suggested the government introduces some kind of "self-asteem" training to encourage the next generation of risk takers.

The North

Nick Jaspan said he has been in Manchester for 30 years and has "never seen it so booming".

He said Manchester is becoming a genuine alternative to London for business and investment but "we want HS3" [high speed rail lines across the north of England].

The Northern Dough Co went south this week, when co-founders Chris and Amy attended a meeting at HM Treasury and @e_nation to discuss how the government can support small business growth in the coming budget. #smallcompanybigambition #NDContour #whatwedobehindthescenes #ENmember

A post shared by The Northern Dough Co (@northerndoughco) on Jun 27, 2018 at 7:58am PDT

Popped into the treasury today to have a word with Luz Truss the chief secretary to the treasury. I was with a convoy with @e_nation and the legendary #emmajones flying the flag for startups. My schtick as usual was all about flexible working and giving breaks to returning to work mums... and of course I had my #Goodordering bag with me. #workinglife #entrepreneurlife

A post shared by Jacqui Ma (@jacqui__ma) on Jun 26, 2018 at 9:30am PDT

The education continues! Today Equipsme Founder Matthew Reed continued his lobbying of the #government for PIID tax exemption for #SMEs that look after their staff.

This time it was No11 #DowningStreet by way of the chief secretary to the Treasury, Liz Truss, so who is next?

— Equipsme (@equipsme) June 26, 2018

Great morning @hmtreasury thanks to invite from @emmaljones @e_nation. Some fantastic business owners and a very interested chief secretary to the treasury the Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss MP @trussliz

— Joy Foster (@techpixiejoy) June 26, 2018

Enterprise Nation's Show me the money! campaign offers content and events to help you better understand the finance options open to your business and to meet organisations with the funds.

Events take place in Birmingham on 17 July, Manchester on 18 July and Edinburgh on 21 November.

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Dan Martin
Dan MartinDan Martin Content & Events
I'm a freelance content creator and event host who helps small businesses and the organisations that support them. I have 18 years of experience as a small business journalist having interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs from billionaires like Sir Richard Branson to the founders behind brand new start-ups. I've worked for a range of leading small business publications and support groups, most recently as head of content at Enterprise Nation where I was responsible for the prolific output of content on the company's blog and social media. I'm based in Bristol where I run and host regular events with the local small business community and have strong connections to major business organisations in the south west region. In total, I've hosted over 50 events; from intimate meet-ups to conferences with an audience of hundreds including events for international brands like Facebook and Xero. I'm also a big fan of podcasts having hosted Enterprise Nation's Small Business Sessions as well as lots of online events including Facebook Live interviews, webinars and three live web chats from inside 10 Downing Street. With my partner, I co-run Lifestyle District, a lifestyle blog focused on culture, art, theatre and photography. I'm here to help. I'm volunteering free advice calls of up to an hour as part of the Recovery Advice for Business scheme, over the next 6 months. Please get in touch to see how I can help your business. 

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