Liz Barclay, Small Enterprise Commissioner (SBC) for the UK and skilled advocate for SMEs, has been introduced as visitor decide for subsequent 12 months’s Startups 100 Index.
Becoming a member of a panel of skilled judges, which incorporates Cheeky Panda’s Chris Forbes and social entrepreneur Karen Lynch MBE, Barclay will assist to establish the winner of the Simply Began award, chosen from a shortlist of companies featured within the high 100.
Launched final 12 months, the award is designed to have fun very early-stage startups which, regardless of having been in enterprise for below a 12 months, have already demonstrated spectacular development, success, or disruption of their area.
Commenting on her choice to take up the decide’s gavel, Barclay tells Startups: “I really feel strongly that sharing finest apply is the best way to unfold it. Awards just like the Startups 100 assist to establish finest apply and get the phrase out.
“The winners need to get their brilliance in large lights. Being a decide helps make all of this doable.”
Who’s Liz Barclay?
If you happen to’re searching for a small enterprise skilled, they don’t come extra certified than Liz Barclay.
Even earlier than taking on the mantle of SBC, Barclay has been an ardent supporter of UK SMEs for many years, balancing membership on a number of advisory boards with working BackinBusiness.org, aiming to present SMEs a voice with coverage makers.
Now, nearly precisely two years into her 4 12 months time period, Barclay’s drive to help SMEs has removed from weakened. As she tells Startups, she solely feels extra decided that startup house owners get entry to the assets and networks they should thrive.
Help for startups wanted all instances of the 12 months
It will be truthful to explain 2023 as a catastrophe 12 months for startups. The present financial uncertainty – triggered by record-high inflation and a cost-of-living disaster – has hit small companies arduous.
Nonetheless, Barclay is at pains to state that the challenges dealing with at this time’s SMEs will not be a one-off. Sure, occasions such because the invasion of Ukraine final February have worsened pre-existing points.
However she believes the concept that we’re merely in a foul buying and selling panorama underplays the essential want for long-term, sustainable help that small corporations – previous, current, and future – depend on.
“Even when instances are good and the financial system is prospering a final share of startups fail,” stresses Barclay. “All new companies want the precise help on the proper time.”
As an alternative, Barclay argues that the issue now could be discovering the precise recommendation, info, and help, “whichever sector and area they’re in, no matter stage of growth they’re at.
“Assistance is on the market however the community is complicated, the alternatives bewildering and infrequently there’s a enterprise to run and no time to analysis one of the best choices for you when you really want it,” she elaborates.
That’s why Barclay has determined to return on board the Startups 100 ship, seeing the necessary position it has performed in celebrating and championing UK small companies for nearly sixteen years.
“Awards schemes that give individuals help and may level them in the precise instructions, are invaluable,” she affirms.
Discover your individuals
For brand spanking new enterprise house owners, that first 12 months of operation could be make or break. Barclay repeats one key phrase of recommendation for startup newborns: community.
Entrepreneurs usually draw back from networking. Significantly for these based mostly outdoors London, it’s straightforward to turn into fixated, after which discouraged, by the thought of spending your hard-earned money at an costly convention within the capital.
However networking, as Barclay describes it, isn’t about promoting your organization to fellow enterprise house owners. Growing networking expertise, she says, is one of the simplest ways to construct the relationships you’ll depend on for future development.
Her reasoning is straightforward. Founding a enterprise generally is a lonely highway, and everybody wants somebody they’ll converse to concerning the hurdles forward. Connecting with like-minded people will assist new entrepreneurs construct up a steady help system.
“Operating a enterprise may be very isolating and all of us want somebody to speak to who will perceive and assist us see the wooden for the bushes, see a transparent route by and plan,” Barclay explains.
One other profit to networking is the flexibility to construct mutually useful relationships and model partnerships that trade worth, not only a enterprise card.
Being included on a prestigious checklist just like the Startups 100 Index is a good way to draw accomplice consideration. Lee Chambers is a small enterprise proprietor who appeared on final 12 months’s Startups 100 Index. Chambers has since reported gaining two new purchasers by collaborating along with his fellow listees.
Lastly, Barclay recommends networking as a strategy to supply sensible recommendation from those that have been within the sport for longer.
“Discover a good mentor for your corporation, somebody who understands your sector and is an effective match for you too,” she instructs. “Don’t be afraid to ask for assist (we’ve all been there) and persons are flattered to be requested.”
Entrants ought to “inform their story”
After we ask Barclay what she’d prefer to see from the Simply Began entrants, she lists the same old suspects: achievements, development potential, proof of sustainability. However she has one other request which will take founders unexpectedly: inform a superb story.
“I need to know concerning the challenges you’ve confronted, errors you’ve realized from, and the way resilient you might be,” says Barclay.
The flexibility to inform a compelling story is a vital talent for brand spanking new enterprise house owners. It tells workers, buyers, companions – and visitor judges – who you might be as a frontrunner, in addition to establishing your model id.
Sincere narratives concerning the trials and tribulations of founding a startup may even assist to democratise entry to assets and encourage others to comply with in your footsteps – a cycle of creation that, in keeping with Barclay, powers the small enterprise financial system.
“Most of all, I’m searching for tales by which different individuals can be taught,” Barclay confirms. “Individuals need to hear from their friends about what works and what doesn’t, reasonably than consultants.”
Are you a brand new enterprise that launched in 2022 onwards? Apply for the Startups 100 Index for an opportunity to be named Simply Began winner for 2024.
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