Entrepreneurs seek one-stop solution to business support
by Chloe Stothart
New Start magazine
Entrepreneurs in Merseyside have called for a rationalisation of business support agencies and a single gateway for those seeking help as part of a wide-ranging plan to boost entrepreneurship in the region.
A report from the Merseyside Entrepreneurship Commission said the plethora of agencies working with new businesses should be whittled down to a smaller number led by one organisation to end the current confusion about the role and relevance of various business support agencies.
It also called for a think tank to provide market intelligence and represent the interests of Merseyside entrepreneurs to government.
Professor Phil Redmond, chair of the commission and best known as the creator of the soap opera Brookside, said a think tank could give small businesses early warning of threats and opportunities created by government policy. He added: ‘I think it should be contributing to the great policy debates that go on.
Government decisions like changing the rules on pensions or road pricing can create difficulty, but also opportunities if businesses know early enough.’
He added that the private sector, as well as public agencies, needed to start procuring more services from local businesses and said student debt should be written off for selected entrepreneurial students who stay on in Merseyside.
Social enterprise development organisation Liverpool Plus welcomed the idea of centralising support for entrepreneurs, but warned that a central body would need the right range of skills to help the various businesses needing support.
Jerry Spencer, procurement officer at Liverpool Plus, added that it would also make sense for the north’s regional development agencies to work together. He said: ‘North of England RDAs could form a consensus on kinds of social enterprises they want to stimulate, given that is likely their industry ‘growth poles’ and sectors are likely to be different in nature and scope to southern England. Loan funds are often pan-regional’
Graham Worrell, chair of Merseyside Social Enterprise Network, said: ‘1 would welcome having an organisation responsible at a sub-regional level, especially if it enabled more grassroots support and addressed the barriers for people to starting their own business.’
Source: New Start magazine.