For those of us on the ground building businesses, a new reality is emerging as the recovery sets in. Ariadne has won funding for five companies in 2010 including Everyclick, which has secured a hefty sum from new and existing investors. Why are so many start-ups getting funded – in our portfolio and elsewhere – in the UK? Because the smart money knows that in the last stages of a market downturn, the forces of growth are at work and the full bloom won’t become obvious until much later.
Twitter, which has raised more than $100m (£65.3m) in funding, recently unveiled a series of business models at its first investor conference, Chirp.
Biz Stone, one of the co-founders of Twitter, was the first to realise that a certain segment of internet users would want to shout about what they were doing and thinking in short bursts. Investors could see the phenomenon emerging online, and wanted to back the emerging platform.
A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have,” so said Gerald Ford, 38th President of the United States in August 1974.
“Nonsense,” you say. “We don’t live in some sort of autocratic dictatorship. Our politicians respect the citizenry and serve the country.”
Who are the goose in society who lay the golden eggs? Where does employment come from, and how do we keep our standard of living from reverting to the (much lower) global average? The key facts are striking.
In the US, the Kauffmann Foundation, one of the world's largest think tanks devoted to entrepreneurship, determined that virtually all net new jobs created in the US between 1980 and 2005 were created by firms five years old or less. That is about 40m new jobs. In the UK, NESTA, the innovation agency led by Jonathan Kestenbaum, has similarly found that the 6 per cent of UK firms which are defined as "high-growth" created 54 per cent of the new jobs.
It was fitting that in the week of the impotent and Kafkaesque Budget, I would end up at the “Business Not as Usual” conference. It is a summit organised by the National Student Enterprise Conference, a grassroots movement of 35,000 UK university students. Leave it to the uncorrupted kids to get things right.
I recently spoke at an IBM event alongside former chancellor Norman Lamont about the issues that face entrepreneurs and how we can turbo-charge these value creators to help rebuild the country’s wealth.
As I digest Wednesday’s budget and what it holds for entrepreneurs, I’m thinking back to that night and it convinced me not to be too impressed with what at first looks like it could be a generous budget.
At a simplistic level, it splits down into taxes and funding. It doesn’t get talked about much, possibly because it’s so dull, but employers’ National Insurance is one of the most onerous taxes on business. It’s ironic that entrepreneurs are taxed for paying salaries when you think about it.
Although we are becoming more connected, more empowered by digital devices and more able to control our lives with technology, we are also becoming more nannied, more kept by the state. Shouldn’t there be an alignment towards more freedom rather than a contrast between our personal and civic lives?
Last week I spoke to a convention of Avon sales representatives about being an “accidental” business person. The theme seemed to resonate. Many in the predominantly female audience were achieving business objectives without having ever really considered themselves to be “in business”.
Earlier this week, I met a new friend for breakfast – an M&A man for some of the biggest media executives.
He told me all about his daughters; one will represent the UK at the Olympics, while the other is an accomplished actress. He explained how he had raised them, and two of the things he said chimed with my own views on what makes women achieve their full potential.
When I was in my late twenties, I had a baptism of fire while trying to establish the Power PC chip as a new industry standard.
In early 1992, IBM, Apple and Motorola announced that they would be developing a new microprocessor – to be called the Power PC – to power the Apple Macintosh and new PCs.
In my marketing role for Motorola, relatively early on in my career, I didn’t think it could get more exciting than being at the centre of an industry where a new standard was emerging.