One stop shop for success: How the right tools can level the playing field for UK small businesses

One stop shop for success: How the right tools can level the playing field for UK small businesses

Posted: Wed 19th Jun 2024

New analysis from Enterprise Nation has demonstrated how delivering easy-to-use digital tools, business skills training and access to mentoring all in one place can cause a significant positive shift in the confidence and skills of the UK's start-up and micro business ecosystem over 12 months, unlocking their economic potential while levelling the playing field for minority groups.

Key findings:

  • Over 12 months, the One Stop Shop platform, developed as part of the Mastercard Strive programme in UK, led to a 15% reduction, (36% to 21%), in founders reporting low confidence in digital skills.

  • One in three (32%) expressed high confidence in digital skills, an increase of 11%.

  • Businesses in the first 18 months of operation (pre-start) saw the most impact with a 22% decrease in those reporting low confidence levels in managing and growing a business.

  • For pre-start, high confidence increased by 15%.

  • Pre-start female founders saw a 24% reduction in low confidence in managing and growing their businesses (41% to 17%).

  • For these, high confidence rose by 13% (17% to 30%).

  • Ethnic minority-run firms experienced a 17% increase in high confidence levels, (20% to 37%), in managing and growing their ventures.

The One Stop Shop report analysed survey data collected from more than 3,500 early-stage UK-based entrepreneurs over 12 months and found a significant improvement in skills and confidence across all areas of business know-how, with female founders and those from an ethnic minority seeing the most benefit from this kind of intervention.

The report found low confidence with digital skills was a particular issue, with more than one in three business founders (36%) reporting low confidence levels, but after 12 months using the resources in the one stop shop, there was an 11% improvement.

Women-led pre-start businesses saw a 24% improvement in confidence (low confidence decreased from 41% to 17%) in managing and growing their businesses, while founders from ethnic minorities saw a 17% increase in high confidence, compared to a baseline of 15%.

The report found that the programme had easily met the key aim of the One Stop Shop: to help level the playing field for female and ethnic minority founders, who often face significant barriers to securing funding, mentoring and access to established networks - the very resources that drive entrepreneurial success.

Natasha Jamal, vice president, social impact & Strive, Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, said:

"Small businesses are the lifeblood of the UK economy, driving innovation, employment and economic growth. However, entrepreneurs face numerous obstacles on their journey to building thriving businesses.

"Access to funding, digital maturity and navigating the regulatory landscape are all significant hurdles; these challenges are often further exacerbated for women and founders from ethnic minorities.

"To help break down these barriers, Mastercard partnered with Enterprise Nation to create the 'One Stop Shop' platform: a comprehensive resource which connects entrepreneurs across the country to business support more efficiently through tailored action plans and access to experts and peers on one easy-to-access platform.

"By working with partners, policymakers and entrepreneurs, we can continue to break down barriers and empower every brilliant idea to drive the UK's economic future."

Emma Jones CBE, founder and CEO of Enterprise Nation, said:

"We recognised the urgent need to provide the UK's small business community with a comprehensive resource that could equip them with the knowledge, tools and support they need to thrive in an increasingly competitive and digitally driven landscape.

"The One Stop Shop was designed, as part of the Mastercard Strive programme in UK, to provide founders with everything they need in one convenient place to navigate the challenges of starting, managing and scaling their businesses.

"From business planning and financial management to digital marketing and ecommerce strategies, the inclusive platform provides entrepreneurs from all backgrounds with the insights and resources to unlock their full potential.

"This report not only outlines the robust offering of the One Stop Shop programme, but also highlights its tangible impact on participants' confidence and capability levels across all three business stages - pre-start, start and grow.

"Thanks to the invaluable support of this initiative, we have seen a clear shift in the confidence and digital capability of our small business community."

Small business case study: Chloe Guo, Shufu Bubble Tea

Oxford-based Chloe Guo, Enterprise Nation member and founder of Chinese milk tea brand Shufu Bubble Tea, said having access to a digital tool that could help benchmark her business against others and see where she needed to improve was really helpful for business growth and safeguarding her mental health.

Chloe launched the business after the pandemic left her craving her favourite Chinese flavoured tea with tapioca bubbles. She started up as a side-hustle as part of a career pivot away from the corporate world, and now delivers her drinks at markets, weddings and corporate events including a regular stall at Oxford Outdoor Market.

She financed the initial investment herself through personal funds and used the money generated from the business to fund further investments.

Chloe said:

"I mainly looked through the internet for any guidance websites or documents. It's hard in the beginning, as all you can do is start with the wider search of 'how to start my own business'.

"The information that comes back can be overwhelming and, sometimes, not that relevant to your business field.

"The One Stop Shop helped me consolidate what the business was good at and, more importantly, not so good at. It was a great way to see what areas a successful business needs and then measure my business against it.

"It offered advice based on the areas in which I needed support such as what revenue goal I wanted to set, which helped me avoid getting lost in the sea of information.

"It guided me through the mental journey that's required for assessing your business and then almost outlined an improvement plan for me – it's a great tool."

Since launching the partnership between Mastercard and Enterprise Nation in 2021, the programme has had an impact on almost 30,000 small businesses from across the UK.

Read the full One Stop Shop report

Enterprise Nation has helped thousands of people start and grow their businesses. Led by founder, Emma Jones CBE, Enterprise Nation connects you to the resources and expertise to help you succeed.

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