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Young Enterprise “better known than business organisations backed by millions in taxpayers’ cash”

Business Zone magazine highlights success of charity

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Young Enterprise is far better known than business support organisations backed by millions in taxpayers’ money, the leading online business magazine Business Zone reports.


As a journalist, I love a good report. On many occasions, the biggest story is often not the headline in the press release but something buried several pages into the study. That’s certainly true of some new findings out today.

The PR for RBS’ latest ‘enterprise tracker’, conducted in association with social enterprise group UnLtd, leads with the fact that a fifth of adults are ‘hidden entrepreneurs’ because they’re using their spare time to grow a new company or earn some extra income. That’s the headline most publications have gone with.

But I got my magnifying glass out, put on my dearstalker and read further into the report. It revealed something very interesting.

On page 36 of the report, the survey outlines how aware the study’s 3,789 respondents are of the UK’s various start-up support schemes. 19 initiatives are listed and the survey found that a pretty high 36% were not aware of any of them. That figure roses to 40% for 18-30 year olds, the target audience of many initiatives.

Millions of pounds are spent on business support projects, yet, if this survey is to be believed, hardly any entrepreneurs know about some of the most high profile ones. Only 2%, for intance, had heard of Global Entrepreneurship, a major scheme that takes place across the world every November, and the same number were aware of the government’s now defunct Business In You initiative which was promoted across England with billboard ads.

The figures were slightly better for StartUp Loans, the government’s flagship startup finance programme, with 11% knowing about it but even that dropped to 9% among 18-30 year olds, the biggest target market of the project.
The most known about schemes were The Prince’s Trust, Big Lottery Fund and Young Enterprise, at 43%, 28% and 17% respectively.

The figures in the study are pretty worrying. Millions of pounds of (often public) money is spent marketing business support schemes but it appears the message isn’t getting through to the people who need to know about them.
I’m not criticising the offering of the initiatives mentioned as I know that many of them are excellent projects run by talented people, but this report does raise questions about whether there are too many initiatives struggling to reach the nation’s entrepreneurs.

The face-to-face services of much criticised Business Link scheme were axed because of too many under-used, criss-crossing initiatives doing the same things. Are we heading for a similar situation with modern schemes?

It’s telling that the Prince’s Trust, a scheme with decades of history, has the most awareness and there are many lessons to learn from how it reaches the people it needs to.

Better collaboration between projects is needed as trying to compete for the same audience is silly. At the end of the day, everyone is in it with the aim of supporting business owners so why not do it together?


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