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

Join the debate! Tell us what you would do to make Great Britain, Growth Britain and let us know which ideas you agree or disagree with.

Submit your idea.

Infrastructure

Votes: 138 Dislikes: 10

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

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TRUE!! I've got a real bee in my bonnet about how unreasonably priced rail infrastructure is affecting the UK economy. I'm actively turning away clients who require me to travel - not just because of the money but because of the inevitability of delays and wasted time.
Jack Symons, Treetops BD | Tue 3rd Dec 2013 at 14:17

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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

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I suggested an export tax credit along the lines you suggest, restricted to £1m of spend over three years. I was told it amounts to state aid under EU rules. But so does the R&D tax credit. So shouldn't the Treasury be able to get over this hurdle? Exporting is fundamental to improving our prosperity and the UK is way down the scale.
Malcolm Durham, Flexible Directors Ltd | Thu 5th Dec 2013 at 12:14

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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

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Would this not only allow people to buy and sell companies and avoid or have a huge saving on tax?
Terence Barnett, FestiveFridays | Wed 11th Dec 2013 at 13:38

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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
Time
served
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

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I can see this might help and have ticked in support. However this solution still requires SME managers to fork out their money first and submit claims later. Many will be financing their businesses partly with credit cards so it hurts. Also, many will dread filling in the claims and may not get around to doing so as they struggle with the many other aspects of keeping their businesses running. The government officials and 'their' civil service have no clue how small business manages its workload, which is why even their best intentioned initiatives often make things worse. To encourage that sector the initial tax spend must be reduced and, importantly, the taxes should be taken from profits earned in preference to committed spending as is the case with the counter anti-enterprise business rates.
David Whitehouse, Aldersgate Global Trading Ltd | Sun 19th Jan 2014 at 17:10

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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

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I think that this is unworkable in UK law as
1 The Company is a separate entity that pays tax on its profits.
2. The employees are rewarded by the company but responsible for their own tax. That tax is based on their earnings from the company which reduce the company's taxable profit.They are responsible for the vcompany's profits or tax liabilities.
3.How would you reward them for the company deducting tax from their salaries and using that to reduce profits- then afterwards having a second bite by setting off the employees tax paid against the company's own tax bill.
4 More like create a tax relief for small employers when they committ to employ extra staff whioch elimiates a certain amount of CT each year for say 3 tax yearsso long as employees retained
Ewan hayes, hayestax limited | Sun 8th Dec 2013 at 20:54

Tricky to implement but a grand idea. Govt spend taxes badly. If the money is instead forced into investment, and in a scenario where the business manager is in a good position to judge whether that investment is likely to yield good returns, the net result should be growth. Simples!
David Whitehouse, Aldersgate Global Trading Ltd | Sun 19th Jan 2014 at 17:21

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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

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Sorry but what do you mean by a structured manner? and how much younger
Terence Barnett, FestiveFridays | Fri 17th Jan 2014 at 14:31

To make business a force for good we need to concentrate teaching empathy while children are young to solve the social issues of tomorrow.
Then to make us the most enterprising and innovative nation we need to get the UK connected to the IoE and make Sustainability; Code; Data; Algorithms; entrepreneurship all part of the curriculum.



Terence Barnett, FestiveFridays | Sun 19th Jan 2014 at 05:18

As I understood this exercise in "Growth Britain", the proposals would/should be short, rather than long term and provide for tangible impact. While the sentiments contained are admirable, this proposal is not about to move Great Britain's growth needle appreciably in the near-term.
David Blumenstein, TECHGB | Sat 15th Feb 2014 at 11:07

Interesting and very similar to my idea submitted months ago regarding school banks as a means of teaching practical commerce to school-age children. Pity you didn't read that before submitting this.
Simon Clark, SJC Systems Limited | Fri 21st Feb 2014 at 14:10

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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.

www.clevertykes.com

Jodie Cole, Clever Tykes | Tue 26th Nov 2013 at 17:59

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This will not grow Britain. While it may be a good read and resource to provide to children, I'm sure they will get a better picture of the real world from Mr burns and Matilda s Dad.

Post man pat, Fireman Sam and bob the builder, who I think may be self employed are all good role models.

I think Growth Britain is about Implementable idea's which will grow Britain Now and the future.

While this may encourage future growth and by no means a bad idea or concept
I don't believe it needs to go to parliament, It may need to go to supermarkets, libraries and Schools.

All the Best.


Terence Barnett, FestiveFridays | Sun 15th Dec 2013 at 16:01

Hi Terence,

Thank you for your comment. I agree that Bob, Pat and Sam are undisputedly good role models, and what we believe is that we should have entrepreneurial role models portrayed in the same positive light. If Mr Burns and Harry Wormwood do portray 'a better picture of the real world' then shouldn't we be trying to change that? We believe we should be inspiring hard-working, honest people to become the business people of tomorrow.

I agree that Growth Britain is about implementing growth in both the short and long-run and that it will require a combination of policies to make that a reality. We have found incontrovertible evidence that both fictional and non-fictional entrepreneurial role models increase a person's likelihood of becoming an entrepreneur, which is why your first comment disappointed me so. If providing children positive entrepreneurial role models increases the quality and quantity of entrepreneurs in the economy, to question whether this would stimulate growth calls into question the very fundamental principles of the free market and all the worth of Startup Britain, Startup Loans and countless enterprise education organisations.

Yes, the books are being used in schools but it is precisely why going to parliament and influencing even more schools would be beneficial to the project and, in turn, the economy. No, this isn't going to instantly grow the economy in the next 5 years, which will be the remit of many of the other suggestions listed here, but it does represent a grassroots approach to achieve a long-term change.

Once again, thank you for your comments and those on the other suggestions - very interesting.
Ben Cook, Clever Tykes | Tue 17th Dec 2013 at 17:58

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Infrastructure

Votes: 276 Dislikes: 2

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

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It's hard to believe there are places without connectivity.
Jane Gomez, Prelude | Tue 19th Nov 2013 at 11:36

Believe it! I go upstairs to get a feeble mobile signal of which to run my work, as the ISP is often too slow to use online apps. True in Kent, true in Co DOwn
Peter Massey, Budd UK Ltd | Tue 26th Nov 2013 at 22:58

I use my UK Vodafone phone abroad in Norway and the coverage is far better than South East England. I'm talking way up in the Norwegian mountains as well!
Jack Symons, Treetops BD | Fri 29th Nov 2013 at 19:23

Although I support this and understand the frustration of bad signal, but the installation of fiber optics would not be cost effective. Basically, the time it would take to lay fiber optics, 5g will probably be available which will solve this problem.

Terence Barnett, FestiveFridays | Fri 20th Dec 2013 at 01:34

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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

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Is this crowd funding by another name ? And you want the public to be able to invest without reference to a regulated entity, be that an advisor or broker? No recourse presumably to the FSCS or FOS when the company goes belly up ? Where are the safeguards for the public?

Simon Clark, SJC Systems Limited | Fri 10th Jan 2014 at 23:33

Echoing Simon's thoughts above: How is this different from crowdfunding? What more is there to do? The public at large has bigger issues on their plate than considering whether or not to put valuable savings and what discretionary income they might have on speculative start-ups and emerging businesses. Has crowdfunding failed?
David Blumenstein, TECHGB | Sat 15th Feb 2014 at 11:12

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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

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Hi,

I would say algebra is one of the most fundamental areas of mathematics. I myself hold a mathematics degree and I can tell you, without algebra a lot of mathematical concepts would not be here today.

I am amazed you have said "who uses algebra", have a look at the Mathematics Wikipedia and you will see a good 99% of topics in mathematics use algebra. A lot of these topics are relevance to you as well, optimization theory, game theory, regression analysis, these would all help your business.

Taxes are not hard, you literally take the amount dedicated to each tax and add a percentage to it. Taking 10% off a net income of £10000 is not rocket science.

I can tell you at degree level in Finance, any Corporate Finance course will go through these topics, with even more details included in the Balance Sheets of Companies.

I would not say teaching VAT to year 9s is important, I would say teaching them how to take percentages so they can apply it to a concept such as VAT is. Plus VAT is very self explanatory, it's a tax on top of the retail price of a good.
Mike Malone, Finance | Fri 22nd Nov 2013 at 21:43

I've never received a P&L account saying X=2Y is my profit. Nor anything from my accountants.
It will never be used in my business nor have I seen it used in large corporate models such as Dixons, Amazon or Apple.

Ask someone down the street 'This product is £100, how much of that is VAT that is at a 20% rate?' And I guarantee they answer £20. We're talking about helping in business here and you're saying its not hard because you pursued it such as I did. It wasn't taught to me however in school which is the point I am making, it is down to relevance over anything else.
Jake Budd, Urban Jungle Apparel Ltd. | Fri 22nd Nov 2013 at 21:50

You have a fair point, sir. But you can't say algebra is useless, everything from the foundations of google to the landings on the moon required high levels of algebra.

In large corporate models algebra is again used. If you are working out the corporate tax rate and personal tax rates you will need a formula that uses algebra. Anything you are using a formula with counts as algebra.
Capital Structure depends heavily on algebra, how a company should finance itself, what is the perfect balance of debt and equity? It again uses formulas in particular the MM2 formula.

In a balance sheet of a company there is no algebra, but all the parts of the balance sheet rely heavily on algebra.

Even the most basic equality:

A= L +S is algebra, assets= liabilities + shareholders equity

If a product is £100, £20 is not VAT. VAT is added onto the price of the product, not taken away from the final price.
So on a £100 product, £16.67 is VAT. If you take £83.33 and add the 20% VAT, you get £100.
Mike Malone, Finance | Fri 22nd Nov 2013 at 22:02

You and I both understand these concepts Mike, however if I were to ask my brother of whom is currently in college I doubt he would remember anything he were taught of algebra and he's not an idiot.
I'm not saying it is useless I'm simply questioning its relevance in a class room when it comes to helping these kids start and grow a company using simple (yet missing) knowledge, and in turn push this country forward.
We both know the VAT and Retail Price calculation but the point was the general public as a whole do not hence my example which I'm ashamed to say is probably true that most would say £20 :(
May I ask have you posted any suggestions? We both have obvious thirst for success so would very much be interested :)
Thank you also for your input I appreciate it. If you are on LinkedIN be sure to add me.
Jake Budd, Urban Jungle Apparel Ltd. | Fri 22nd Nov 2013 at 22:14

Jake, if you want to grow a company, you need 2 things...

1) Business Knowledge- as you have pointed out, what VAT is, what cash flow is, how companies are structured, how can you raise the capital for your business, do you take out a loan or do you sell a share of your business, how this affects the risk of your business.

2) Technical Knowledge- this totally depends on your field. Most of my knowledge is in Mathematics, Finance and a tad bit of Economics. You need technical knowledge in your area of business. I may know how a business runs but I cant possibly start up a soup shop if I don't know how to make the soup.Right?

I mean surely a business studies or economics A Level would give you basic knowledge on these business concepts? If you want real business knowledge you would have to enrol in a business management/finance/economics degree.

The problem is Jake, there is too much to know, I studied maths at university level and I would say I know around maybe 5-10% of all the maths in existence. It just shows you how big subjects are.

Even for new start ups, a degree goes a long way, its a good cushion to fall back on if the business doesnt do well. Plus you learn something interesting and meet a lot of interesting people.
Mike Malone, Finance | Fri 22nd Nov 2013 at 22:25

Hi both,
Thank you for your comments, certainly thought provoking. I would have to agree with you both here as the question is not 'who' uses it but more 'how' we use it.

I studied sciences at A-level and then did a Physical Geography degree, all of which needed me to utilise algebra. However, I am shamed to say I would probably be one of those that could not calculate the correct VAT in the above example, without having to very seriously think about it. Shocking! Not because I do not have the skills, but more the confidence in the application.

My brother now sends his kids to a Steiner school where they are taught these skills in context, right from an early stage e.g maths within a business setting.
They are taught how to build the computer as well as how to use Exel on the computer and taught how to manage their finances. Something I was never taught at school.

I think this way of teaching could help give kids the confidence to think more practically about how to apply the theory they are taught, especially in a real world scenario, and something that I will be very interested in watching as my niece and nephew progress.

Thanks
Emma


Emma Packe, Prelude Group | Mon 25th Nov 2013 at 15:34

I believe this post does raise a fundamental question regarding the curriculum in general. There are other proposals here that question the scope and application of teaching in our schools so I don't want to repeat them here. Teaching a whole class how to solve a quadratic equation is going to benefit how many ? Teaching them how to multiply matrices together is useful for what ? The underlying concept here is problem solving and knowing how to address something, perhaps breaking it down into smaller steps, rather than learning by rote the method.
Simon Clark, SJC Systems Limited | Sun 8th Dec 2013 at 22:40

Thanks simon for the input. What you have stated is the fundamentals of the post at hand. The following year selecting GCSEs it is found that the choice of pursuing maths (specifically advanced statistics) drops at a horrific rate to prove in relation to scale that many in all honesty find it boring and unnecessary in many fields however everyone is effected by taxations, bills, mortgage rates and loans etc which should be a staple in the foundation of learning.
Jake Budd, Urban Jungle Apparel Ltd. | Mon 9th Dec 2013 at 19:39

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Skills & Training

Votes: 8 Dislikes: 4

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.

So..

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
www.brightyoungbrits.org

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

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This is a re-interpretation of one of my proposals from weeks ago, but thanks for expanding it Lucy.
Simon Clark, SJC Systems Limited | Tue 14th Jan 2014 at 00:48

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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

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Many entrepreneurs and motivational speakers do careers fairs already although not a bad thing this will not grow Britain.
Terence Barnett, FestiveFridays | Sun 15th Dec 2013 at 16:26

I agree with Terence, for many years I have had graduates giving motivational talks about starting their businesses, and I have a Student and Graduate stand at the careers fairs and open days, and a few other universities do this as well. We also have great connections with local schools.
Marina Pickles, Loughborough University | Wed 29th Jan 2014 at 14:50

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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

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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

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I agree 100%! I wasn't even taught how to register a company in 'Business Studies'
Jake Budd, Urban Jungle Apparel Ltd. | Fri 22nd Nov 2013 at 20:59

Completely agree. Education needs to adapt to the dynamic technology-driven economy we are trying to grow. And, yes, we really have to question the insights and 'role models' shows like Dragon's Den and The Apprentice provide the next generation.
Ben Cook, Clever Tykes | Wed 4th Dec 2013 at 21:23

The apprentice and dragons den both paint a very good picture of the real world.
I am a student and entrepreneur.

Your problem may have something to do with your recruitment process if you keep getting people not fit for the job.

There are many Techies out there working in supermarkets and warehouses because there is not enough jobs.


Terence Barnett, FestiveFridays | Sun 15th Dec 2013 at 16:17

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Skills & Training

Votes: 314 Dislikes: 30

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

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While It is important to add and improve the experience for tourists.
We cannot rely on tourism to grow our economy.

At present British Towns, Cities, Brands and High streets do an awful lot to meet the demand of tourism interests and various cultures who all contribute to our economy.

The UK can grow and market its services, experience, and things like what you are suggesting via the internet and while your idea does open up a market for people to supply bespoke trips and experiences, a contribution of £300 million although a very great contribution is neither here nor there in the growth of our economy.

The UK is estimated to spend £87bn this year on online shopping, so concentrating on high net worth is not going to grow our economy.

We have some of the worlds most famous stores, brands and an a fashion industry worth between £21-£37 billion.

Every British service and brand that I can think of have a comprehensive and detailed website/App and for people to use free of charge.

And finally with the UK estimated to spend £87bn this year on online shopping concentrating on high net worth is not going to grow our economy.

I am also sure that the Chinese do not only come for our shops.
Terence Barnett, FestiveFridays | Wed 4th Dec 2013 at 16:08

Many thanks for your feedback. I think we need to be careful not to mix apples with oranges in this debate, so I would like to respond to each area separately:

1) Size of the market: While the current contribution is around £300 million, it is more than likely to multiply in the near future with the visa regulation simplification. Also, such new services as I am proposing can be easily extended to other groups of high net worth overseas visitors like Russia, the Middle East, India and Brazil. Together, these people represent a spending power of _a few billions_ pounds. I don’t think the UK is in a comfortable position to neglect this spending power (other countries are certainly not!).

2) Inbound marketing of British high streets, cities and brands: Doing a lot of things does not equal doing the RIGHT things. The path of purchase starts in the traveller’s native country and ends at the cashier in a UK shop. Have a guess: In how many touch points are the British high streets currently present?

Just taking pride in having the world’s famous stores and brands won’t be effective in engaging the modern discerning consumer. Paris, Milan and New York have equally famous shopping outlets, but what is going to make a difference to the consumer is a retail industry that truly listens to their needs and is catering to these needs. This way, the UK can really stand out as a preferred holiday destination.

3) Online shopping vs. in-store shopping: These are two completely separate retail areas and I don’t see why either one should be preferred to the other. There is growth to be achieved in both areas.

4) Reason of trip: I am afraid to let you know that the main reason why many Chinese come to London is shopping. You might not like it, but it is a fact.

5) Short-term vs. long-term: Lastly, I would like to emphasize that this is only one idea out of many to grow Great Britain. By no means I am saying that the UK should RELY on Chinese tourists to grow its eco
Lu Li, House of Li | Sat 7th Dec 2013 at 15:00

Apparently there is a maximum word count. To finish my point: By no means I am saying that the UK should RELY on Chinese tourists to grow its economy. However, it is a low-hanging fruit and tangible results can be achieved within the next 1-2 years. Might be interesting to consider…
Lu Li, House of Li | Sat 7th Dec 2013 at 15:02

Wouldn't it be far more profitable to take the mountain to Mohammed and ensure that British luxury goods are available to purchase in mainland China ?

Whether this meant providing grant assistance to a UK retail chain to expand into China, or by partnering with an existing chain out there, this would be far more accessible to both the upper and the middle classes.

I would propose that there should be a showroom area staffed by product specialists from the UK but also trained local people, thereby providing employment for them as well. Essentially a department store with the emphasis on product presentation and knowledge.
Simon Clark, SJC Systems Limited | Sun 8th Dec 2013 at 22:12

Hello Simon, thanks for your suggestion. I agree that having a presence in China would help British retailers as well. However, things are not that easy.

Firstly, it is not that easy to "expand into China"… there are a lot of regulations to be taken into account, it is a cumbersome process.

Also, there is a very high sales tax on luxury products in China, which is actually one of the main reasons why Chinese people prefer to buy the goods abroad. It's on average about 40-60% cheaper.

Then, you should know that the staff in department stores in China are badly trained. You will need A LOT of efforts to raise that to an acceptable standard.

And lastly, there is one more thing that comes to my mind which might sound surprising if not crazy to you, but that's just how things are in China… the thing I'm talking about is lack of trust. Discerning Chinese consumers have developed a certain distrust against their local stores/sales people. For example, it is not impossible that a Louis Vuitton store assistant secretly exchanges the goods in the inventory with AAA+ rated fake goods. So as a consumer you can really never be 100% sure that the luxury product you are buying is actually the real deal. So people prefer to buy abroad where they feel safe about their purchase.
Lu Li, House of Li | Fri 13th Dec 2013 at 14:25

I personally don't think the British high end retailers are bad at all, many would find your comments insulting.
I think you have found a niche for a bespoke service which could be altered for different nationalities.
I think there is a market for such service, and yes it will help the economy.

As for growing Britain, By targeting High net individuals from outside the UK who are clearly aiming at the fashion industry in London, you miss the whole objective.

Your Idea may help the fashion industry, and the economy in London.


Terence Barnett, FestiveFridays | Mon 16th Dec 2013 at 02:29

File this Proposal under the heading: Growth London.
David Blumenstein, TECHGB | Sat 15th Feb 2014 at 12:29

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Infrastructure

Votes: 373 Dislikes: 14

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

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Great idea in terms of for-profit business - if it makes more funding available and better use of that funding. However I think grants are needed for non-profit projects; arts, conservation etc create value in ways that are difficult to quantify in the short term and shouldn't be expected to return loans!

Iain Robinson, POY | Sun 12th Jan 2014 at 17:09

This Idea is outrageous.
The government already have start-up initiatives which are Loans and do exactly what your are suggesting.
As for abolishing/Cutting Grants?

I would do more to promote the grants so the 500,000 start-ups in 2013 may not be 250.000 by 2015 they may 300,000 and in the future an improvement on that. All due to having that non refundable cash injection!

Making it harder to access financing and money in the most volatile stage of business is not wise.

The government and organisations who give out the grants could do more to vet applicants and insure the money is spent on the purpose of the loan.

Saying that you will find that most Start-Up initiatives give business mentors and supply on-going support to do this.






Terence Barnett, FestiveFridays | Sun 19th Jan 2014 at 04:55

I work with very early start-ups when even sometimes very small amounts of money can be a real help in the early stages of their businesses so to remove any access to grants would be a disaster.
I believe there should be more schemes providing small grants for very early stage businesses, especially for students who probably already have massive loans to complete their studies, they should not be encouraged to take out additional loans to start a business unless that loan has a zero interest rate and over 10 years to pay it back!
Marina Pickles, Loughborough University | Wed 29th Jan 2014 at 14:34

Hi Terence & Marina,

Thanks for your comments guys! I think it is great to get some discussion on the go :)

The most important consideration of my argument is that money given in grants can only be given once. Money given in loans can be given again and again.

Give 500,000 starts ups £1 and you have spent £500,000. Interest free loan 500,000 £1 for one year then next year you have that £500,000 to give to more start ups in need of funding.

The sad truth is most businesses fail because they can't sell their product or service. Giving them money to launch a business that fails is counter intuitive. If they have no liability to pay the money back then they don't have to worry so much if the venture fails. Ensuring they had to pay the money back means they would spend it much more wisely.

Marina, I agree maybe the loans should be interest free and set over a long scale in time. The point is that the money should be paid back not given away!

Thanks, Sam
Sam Zawadzki, AdvancetoGO | Thu 30th Jan 2014 at 13:54

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Skills & Training

Votes: 21 Dislikes: 3

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

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