Thank you to everyone for contributing, and I hope that Prelude and Growth Britain will continue to inspire business owners and start ups across the country to drive innovation and growth. Keep up the good work.

Lord Young, Enterprise Adviser to the
Prime Minister


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Our favourite ideas

Business Rates impact on the low paid

There is a problem with business rates because

1. they depress start-up activity and,
2. they act as a fixed cost overhead based on workspace occupied, making them particularly punitive to businesses which employ lower paid workers.

In the USA there are no property taxes suppressing start-ups

On a trip to the US recently I sat eating an inexpensive pizza in a large restaurant in a run-down mall. There were two other customers there. Beside an enormous stack of pizza boxes were two young men, one wearing an apron and the other with a helmet on his lap. They were sitting on the counter chatting with not much to do because business was slack. They were talking about the profit margin on their anchovy pizza!

I have never in Britain seen so many square feet of commercial premises being put to such low return use, or two such young men concerned with profit margins. Why? Because in Britain it is impossible to recognise that an existing commercial property's only viable business use offers a low return; one that is insufficient to pay the large fixed overhead of business rates.

Those two apprentice entrepreneurs could not exist in Britain. In Britain this property would be empty and falling derelict, and those two young men would be unemployed, rather than learning how you can make ends meet through low-skill, yet profitable work.

Business rates are disproportionately punitive to the lower paid

Business rates are the biggest lower-paid job-killer in Britain today. Almost all employing businesses need commercial premises of some description. But when they first open for business, or often during quiet periods of off-season demand, young businesses lose money fast because they have a HIGH fixed overhead in business rates.

Running young businesses requires LOW fixed overheads. Where costs are variable, not fixed, they can be brought down to match the level of revenue and minimise early or seasonal losses which in young businesses are almost inevitable, and often fatal.

But business rates are a high fixed overhead. They have nothing to do with sales revenue, or employment, or profits. Business Rates are a tax on business existence. Government is waiting in the delivery room to tax any infant business, and what is worse, because the tax relates to workspace, it applies at a far higher marginal rate on lower paid workers than it does on higher paid ones.

Everyone who thinks about it realises this is dumb. But because a business has no vote it is convenient for government to dump higher taxes on business rates. Consequently - on a per-square-foot basis - business rates in my experience have been six times as much as the residential council tax (the equivalent private residence tax) in the same area. A similarly inexcusable multiple applies between a residential parking permit and a business one. This anti-business policy kills young businesses stone dead.

Can this problem be fixed? Yes it can.

A solution in "Low Paid Worker Relief from Business Rates"

Businesses collect and pay employees' taxes through the PAYE scheme. Young businesses should be able to reclaim their business rates with a PAYE tax receipt for a low wage worker.

The policy statement (below) denies relief to property asset holding businesses, and to established businesses, and to businesses which employ only high wage earners. It targets relief at young organisations which have created new jobs on lower wages. This is the sector of the economy which currently shoulders a disproportionate and punitive share of business rates.

Just as importantly its implementation is very easy. Business rates are collected and paid in the normal way, and later redeemed by submitting a simple claim composed of the employer's NI account number and the relevant employee's NI number. The place and period of employment, the rate of pay, and the amount of tax already paid via PAYE, are all already on the employee's NI record held by HMRC.

Like any good relief this should reduce on a sliding scale, so that a mature business pays its taxes on the same scale as other mature businesses and so that there is no sudden cliff, but a gradual stepping-up over time to the normal tax rate.

"Young Businesses" are defined as those which have not yet made taxable profits in five tax years.

"Qualifying Lower Paid Workers" are defined as workers whose PAYE income tax records show that their income is below 80% of the national average wage.

Policy : Where a Young Business employs Qualifying Lower Paid Workers they may claim, and HMRC will redeem to the business, paid PAYE contributions as follows, up to but not exceeding the net total of business rates paid on the building:-

Age of Young Business not exceeding
1 year 2 years 3 years 4 years 5 years
1 year -100% -100% -100% -100% -100%
2 years n/a -80% -75% -50% -50%
3 years n/a n/a -50% -45% -25%
4 years n/a n/a n/a -30% -20%
5 years n/a n/a n/a n/a -10%

NB. Currently there are several forms of business rate relief, but they offer lower tax bills to a mixture of charity, religious, and amateur sports premises, and one to very small businesses which serves primarily to dis-incentivise growth. These existing reliefs incentivise property speculators to house charity shops (which is perhaps why there are so many of them doing so little business) and - in one case I have heard of - to found a religion!

Paul Tustain, Bullion Vault | Tue 19th Nov 2013 at 10:09 Votes: 115 Dislikes: 0

Make Funding a Sustainable Business

Grant funding is unsustainable, there are hundreds of different grant initiatives through-out the UK, but how is their impact measured in the long term?

Grant money is given away, spent and often lacks any form of accountability.

If 50% of businesses fail in their first year how many of them those businesses have been grant funded, and how much of that funding is wasted?

I believe that for sustainable business to be fostered all funding should be given in the form of loans, with low or zero interest. This would ensure that business are using money to grow and their spending decision will be based on the knowledge that they must repay the borrowed capital. This will foster better financial planning and repayment statistics will provide the much needed clarity on the effectiveness of early stage funding in the long term!

£1million of grant funding is distributed but then the fund has run out, however a £1million loan fund is repaid meaning that the capital can then be re-distributed to new companies in need of funding. This is immensely more beneficial in the long term.

It's time StartUps stopped chasing free money and started focusing on real growth.

It's time the government focused on sustainable business growth by abolishing grant funding!

Sam Zawadzki, AdvancetoGO | Wed 27th Nov 2013 at 13:23 Votes: 373 Dislikes: 14

Leverage 'alternative' types of investors

SEIS has been just one example of the UK government trying to stimulate investment - and in many ways it has worked. In practical ways it only really makes sense for those of a high net worth where opportunities to write off an investment against a large looming tax bill represents an attractive alternative (plus all the other associated benefits of SEIS, including relief on Capital Gains, etc).
However I'd also like to see some extra initiatives to stimulate the 'smaller' investor and encourage independent mentors to step forward and foster innovation. To encourage the £1k-£25k 'cherubs' - not angels - to support new concepts through to production. It seems there is a fair amount of disposable cash which doesn't exactly generate much of a return in the bank, not to mention lousy annuities. So I suggest we encourage those sitting on enough disposable cash to justify a diversified 'punt' in startups, through tax breaks - relative to total earnings/wealth and investment. It would be useful to see new experience and veteran wisdom offered to optimistic and enthusiastic entrepreneurs but we need to concentrate on nurturing the skills of the investor as well as preparing entrepreneurs for pitching.
Seedrs, KickStarter, CrowdCube and co. have done a lot to help in this space but I hope to see more taking place in more traditional (offline) investment 'arenas'.

Jack Symons, Treetops BD | Wed 11th Dec 2013 at 14:27 Votes: 21 Dislikes: 3

Global business as a means of change

The brightest students are educated to work hard, get good grades, choose a profession and look for a well paid job.

Young people are increasingly challenging those ideals for their lives. Factors such as a greater freedom of information through the internet have led to greater social awareness.

Often this social awareness and resulting dissatisfaction is directed to lower impact activities.

I propose introducing business as a means of change from an early age.

Schools are beginning to encourage entrepreneurial mindsets by setting business challenges to sixth form students. I propose introducing these ideas to children in a structured manner, and much earlier.

Just as children study more traditional subjects from a young age while increasing the complexity over time, I propose the same for entrepreneurship education.

Unlike some more traditional subjects, business skills are best learned by practice. Classes where children are encouraged to spot opportunities in their local community would allow them to develop an enterprising mindset. Is the grass too long in local parks? Can we pay for it to be cut by selling the cut off to local shops as pet feed?

By working on toy challenges such as this for several years, by the time they reach GCSE or A level age the young people that feel passionately that air travel pollutes, for example, will strive to study engineering and start companies that commercialise cleaner technologies.

By fostering business as a means for global change from a young age we encourage more british people to found the global corporations of tomorrow and lead change in the world in a financially sustainable way.

Bilal Khan, Unii | Wed 15th Jan 2014 at 10:57 Votes: 305 Dislikes: 11

A grass-roots approach to creating entrepreneurs – The Clever Tykes Books

The Clever Tykes storybooks introduce children to positive entrepreneurial role models.

Years of data prove that children with parents who started their own business are far more likely to start their own business when they grow up. Not because they’ve been gifted money, not because they have been taught business principles, but because they have grown up with someone who has a certain skillset and attitude to work and risk – a positive entrepreneurial role model.

Britain needs exciting young innovators and entrepreneurs to drive the economy forward and become the employers of tomorrow. The Clever Tykes books take a grass-roots approach to economic growth and reducing unemployment.

Children’s literature introduces us to characters such as Postman Pat, Fireman Sam and Bob the Builder. In most fiction, any business people or wealthy people are seen as mean and greedy characters (think Mr Burns, Matilda’s Dad). We need to instil children with the beliefs that enterprise and business are credible, realistic and worthy career paths for them when they are older, and the Clever Tykes books aim to do this from an early age.

The entrepreneurial messages are subtle whilst important characteristics such as innovation, independence, goal-setting, hard work and resourcefulness are promoted.

We are, by no means, trying to create an influx of child entrepreneurs. Rather, we are trying to gently introduce the idea of self-employment to children so that it becomes a realistic option for them when deciding what they want to do later in life.

We are hoping that this completely embodies what Growth Britain is all about.

Jodie Cole, Clever Tykes | Tue 26th Nov 2013 at 17:59 Votes: 80 Dislikes: 19

Rail for Business

As a startup, we have found travel to be a barrier to our business. Car travel is expensive and doesn't allow you to work en-route. Train travel is extortionately priced, mobile phone signal is poor, wifi signal is poor and expensive, standard class carriages are overcrowded and it's impossible to travel at peak times on a budget. Our travel expenses are a real strain on the business and we have to spend a lot of time planning travel in advance, often having to travel down the previous evening, car-sharing or not taking meetings at all.

Whilst online call conference platforms are improving, there is no substitute for a face-to-face meeting. Therefore, I propose that work is done to dramatically improve UK train travel for business. Why trains? - If we provide the right conditions, people can be very productive whilst travelling via train. Instead of being a barrier to business, trains should be a facilitator by allowing cost-effective, stress-free travel and a positive working environment.

I would suggest the mandatory introduction of 'business class' to trains connecting major UK cities. These extra carriages are equipped with strong wifi, ample power sockets, and good quality mobile phone signal. Users would have the choice of a single workstation or a team workstation if travelling in a group. Business class would be offered to all business sizes but heavily subsidised for startups, entrepreneurs and small businesses. Also, those receiving subsidies would not be penalised for travelling at peak times as they are in the current system.

By making train travel easy, cost-effective and productive, we can encourage business people to travel in a working environment, take advantage of opportunities and expand their businesses. Let's get Britain's small businesses moving!

Sam Ryan, JumpIn | Mon 2nd Dec 2013 at 14:26 Votes: 138 Dislikes: 10

Hi-Speed Internet Access Throughout the UK

In certain parts of the UK internet connection is so poor that people can’t get online or use emails, it’s as slow as dial-up. It effects business and means they can’t possibly have a competitive edge. Ensure everyone has the tools and access to operate and compete fairly.
Andrew Cameron-Webb, Sosius | Tue 19th Nov 2013 at 10:15 Votes: 276 Dislikes: 2

Invite Entrepreneurs to Careers Fairs

Most teachers go from school to university, back to school so it’s no wonder they don’t understand about starting a business and hence it’s seldom presented to young people. Encourage them to explore this option by having entrepreneurs attend and speak at careers fairs.
Syd Nadim, Clock Ltd | Tue 19th Nov 2013 at 09:33 Votes: 125 Dislikes: 6

Reinvent careers guidance and focus on ‘skills development’ for young Brits

1. There are 1.5 million young people out of work across the UK.

2. The UK’s creative industries (as listed by NESTA, including digital innovation) are booming and contribute hugely to the UK economy.

3. Careers advice neglects to help school leavers understand their options and the potential opportunities open to them across the entrepreneurial and creative sectors.

4. Apprenticeships and internships are regularly stated as highly beneficial to both employers and young people.


Let’s make more positive, collaborative connections between the creative industries and young people nationwide.

Let’s challenge more creative and entrepreneurial businesses to introduce One More Desk into their studios.

Let’s reinvent what it means to provide school and college leavers with careers guidance, and turn it into ‘skills development’.

Let’s make it about new skills, new horizons and nurturing an enterprising, creative courage in young people to get out there and make something good.


2014 marks 100 years since the First World War, which resulted in a “lost generation”.

Let’s think creatively now, to avoid another lost generation.

Starting in 2014.


Lucy Johnston
Bright Young Brits

Lucy Johnston, The Neon Birdcage / Bright Young Brits | Fri 10th Jan 2014 at 17:08 Votes: 8 Dislikes: 4

Who actually uses algebra?

I believe tax such as VAT, Corporation Tax and PAYE should be taught in school as young as YR9 for them to further understand a concept of everyday life and get it drilled in.
I had to teach myself these particular things when I started my business aged 20 after funnily enough 'failing' business studies because we didn't actually learn anything that was in the slightest necessary to know so I didn't show interest and taught myself in the end.
Forget doing case studies on big companies and their offices too and rather teach us how they got to that point in the first place!
That'd be wonderful.

Jake Budd, Urban Jungle Apparel Ltd. | Fri 22nd Nov 2013 at 21:12 Votes: 67 Dislikes: 11

Expand R&D Tax credits

My suggestion is that the R&D tax credit allowance is broadened to include virtually all design and development projects not just those that meet the current high threshold of recognition. It should also be expanded to include all foreign exploration/ marketing and selling costs.
This would massively derisk growth opportunities for smaller ventures where the opportunity cost of the owner travelling is lost management resource back at the fort.

stephen sacks, muubaa | Wed 27th Nov 2013 at 09:57 Votes: 8 Dislikes: 0

Let entrepreneurs use Corporation tax to generate jobs

Companies should pay corporation tax. But what if they committed to pay it as a delta in employment taxes? Corporation tax is a big drain on cash-flow. If that cash could be put into recruiting more people instead, the tax take is increased and more jobs are created (and no bankers required).

If Tax take = New Jobs x (Employer employee taxes) - Corp Tax.
But if new jobs = 0 then tax take = Corp tax

Example: £14k of corp tax to be paid in Jan. Employ 2 more graduates at £30k pa. I can use the £14k to fund the first quarter, offsetting the riskiest period. Over the tax year they pay £7k each in taxes, company pays c £3k. Company then pays £14-10k in corp tax delayed to end of year, but 2 jobs are created. In turn more profitable business created through employing more people - so more corp tax due in following year

Alchemy! There must be a catch......?

Peter Massey, Budd UK Ltd | Tue 26th Nov 2013 at 23:29 Votes: 8 Dislikes: 1

Incentivise those selling businesses to start new businesses quickly

Currently there are some fabulous tax incentives to invest in start-ups as an angel / minority investor such as SEIS & EIS. There is however no tax breaks to encourage you to start a new business quickly once you have exited.

If you could effectively reduce your tax bill on an exit - either at the Entrepreneurs Relief Rate of 10% or at 28% above the £10m lifetime allowance if you say started a new business in a certain timeframe. This could be set-up in a similar way to SEIS/EIS but with different parameters to encourage large investment from entrepreneurs with a successful track record.

Rules could be set around the timing (e.g. within 2 years of exit) or even based on the number of people the new entity employs.

Rob Hamilton, Instant | Tue 10th Dec 2013 at 18:58 Votes: 18 Dislikes: 6

Encourage a new wave of 'few strings' investment in startups & growth business

Let's encourage a new and permanent step change in the amount of risk capital available to start ups and growth businesses by allowing ventures to raise money from the public without only bring able to approach sophisticated investors without going through an expensive and limiting FCA regulated advisor.

If we allow entrepreneurs to promote their ventures without holding them back, this will grow risk capital - and reduce the costs of raising it.

Of course some investors will lose money but many will win, encouraging a risk friendly environment.

The govt can help encourage investors too by putting the clear benefits of EIS and SEIS investments in every annual tax correspondence to anyone in the higher rate of tax and / or anyone who has incurred high capital gains. This will encourage asset rich people to invest in growth companies rather than property or shares in the main stock markets, who have no capital raising issues and create fewer new jobs/value.

It's crazy that promoting gambling on TV is legal but promoting investing to the public not!

Let's change this in 2014. It can be done quickly and and at no capital cost or delay, encourage an nation to entrepreneurs and venture investors. Go Growth Britain!

Alex Cheatle, Ten Group | Thu 9th Jan 2014 at 17:27 Votes: 33 Dislikes: 2

Extend Entrepreneurs Relief

This system doesn't encourage those adept at scaling great businesses to continue beyond a valuation of £10million, when entrepreneurs relief no longer applies. It encourages people to sell up. Incentivise them to carry on growing and creating jobs.This system doesn't encourage those adept at scaling great businesses to continue beyond a valuation of £10million, when entrepreneurs relief no longer applies. It encourages people to sell up. Incentivise them to carry on growing and creating jobs.
Toby Baxendale, Seafood Holdings Ltd | Tue 19th Nov 2013 at 09:50 Votes: 47 Dislikes: 0

Lack of Technical Education

My big bug bear is about education. I see it in the digital world, that there is a lack of technical talent especially. Everyone that we have hired has pretty much taught themselves. As a result it’s hard to find people that are up to the job. How can that be in a supposedly digitally-advanced country, that schools aren't producing individuals able to develop in a commercial environment? I think the reason behind this actually means that a similar thing happens in the area of entrepreneurship, too. Kids watch The Apprentice and Dragon’s Den and think that to be a successful entrepreneur you either have to be a loud-mouthed bully, or come up with a ‘brilliant idea’. When in reality neither of these things is true.

I think the problem is that industry and education are kept apart too much. How can you expect a teacher, who has probably never worked in industry, to teach entrepreneurship? And how can you expect a teacher to be on top of the fast-moving world of digital when it’s a full-time job for those working in the industry to keep up?

David Hart, Codegent | Wed 20th Nov 2013 at 12:28 Votes: 36 Dislikes: 1

Make Great Britain more attractive for high net worth Chinese shopping tourists

Attracting more Chinese tourists is an immense lever to grow the UK luxury retail industry, because they spend three times as much as the average overseas tourist. In 2012, the total of their spending in the UK was £300m. However, as a group, they only accounted for 1% of all overseas visitors. Hence, there is tremendous opportunity for further growth!

One of the key obstacles for Chinese tourists to visit Britain so far has been the cumbersome process to apply for a visa. Thankfully, the government has already acted upon this and announced a simplification process to be put in place.

While this will definitely help to get more Chinese tourists into the country, the British luxury retail industry must also do their homework accordingly, if they want to maximize rewards.

It is important to understand that Chinese high net worth individuals travel no longer in large groups, but rather as independent travellers or in small VIP groups. Moreover, their shopping needs are very different.

They are not interested in the quick sale, but show an interest in learning about the intricacies of a brand or experience other special arrangements that can be shared with family and friends upon returning home.

This represents a great opportunity to market the many great British fashion brands, department stores and shopping malls in a new way and establish customer loyalty.

Winning affluent Chinese shopping tourists over goes way beyond accepting Union Pay and having Mandarin-speaking staff. Strategic engagement and focus on reputation as well as personalized service will be crucial to the deliver the wanted “experience”.

More visas will bring China’s increasingly discerning luxury customers into the door, but the experience will form the basis of a lasting relationship. Is Britain ready for that?

Lu Li, House of Li | Tue 3rd Dec 2013 at 14:42 Votes: 314 Dislikes: 30

Most recent idea

Collaborative Entrepreneurship

We need a paradigm shift for micro-SMEs from "My Idea, my rewards" to "Collaborative Entrepreneurship", a Pooling of "Ideas, rewards & risks".

This needs a proforma legal agreement for collaborative project working, and a shift to "Virtual Clusters", where micro-SMEs collaborate using the Web to supply Corporates using Agile-SCRUM methods, as bees to a honeypot.

This could lead to global physical hubs, such as London, New York, Frankfurt, being supplied via the web by Ecosystems of global SMEs who come together for individual projects.

Andrew Lewis, Simul Systems Ltd | Wed 19th Mar 2014 at 12:40