Our Entrepreneurial Britain research brought to light a wide range of techniques and personality traits that have helped entrepreneurs chase business success, as well as the many sacrifices and challenges they make along the way. However confident, open or organised you are (behavioural traits that emerged throughout the research); creating your own business model and developing a product or service from scratch is no easy feat. While there is, of course, huge variation across small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs), many entrepreneurs share similar outlooks to go with the many setbacks and rewards that come with such a risky pursuit.
For example, our research found entrepreneurs are more likely to align themselves with goal-orientated attitudes, tenacity, and perseverance- with a key incentive to start their own business being to have control over their work and lifestyle (a massive eight in ten entrepreneurs agreed that this motivates them). However, it doesn’t just come from a desire to have greater autonomy or from being a bit more risk averse than everyone else. If you don’t have the right resources- whether in the form of materials, finance or people- you won’t reap the benefits of all that creative, self-governing attitude. While our research has helped us understand the drive and mindset of entrepreneurs, I wanted to know more about the kind of tools, sites or products they use that help them put these motivations and thought-processes into practice.
Thanks to today’s hyper-connected, ‘always-on’ culture, it is easier for small to medium business owners to access a wealth of information and services to grow or maintain their start-ups. These range from blogs, vlogs, networking apps, specialist magazines, social networks, crowdfunding sites and online advice centres. Advisory sources are of particular value given that one of the key areas that entrepreneurs felt they needed help with was guidance and support around core business areas, such as taxes, staffing, legal advice and finances.
A traditional medium offering advice and support comes in the form of the humble newspaper, or more accurately newsbrand. While the majority of newspaper titles have historically had their own dedicated space for business and economy news, as they evolve into newsbrands, these sections are increasingly accessible across platforms. Having to hand these multiplatform newsbrands that contain business insights and up-to-date information on the best business practice mean entrepreneurs are better able to access expert advice and industry commentary from the likes of Huffington Post, The Guardian and The Telegraph.
For more inspiration and information, budding or established entrepreneurs can find tips and tricks from sites, pages and vlogs produced by fellow business owners, industry experts or influencers. Some examples include YouTube channels: ‘The Week in Start Ups’, ‘Google Small Business’ and ‘Behind the Brand’, while handy sites with guidelines and steps for success include: startupbritain.org, bizbritain.org, smallbizpod.co.uk and entrepreneurshub.co.uk. Blogs include those from Martin Couzin , Neil Usher and Clear Books.
There are also events supported by key influencers, such as Girl Boss, which ran in March 2016 and involved a series of talks and presentations aimed at teaching women how to prosper and become a success in their own right, hosted by the hilarious (and inspiring) DJ and presenter Maya Jama.
As well as these advisory resources, more practical tools exist that can actually facilitate managerial tasks for business owners. These include accounting app Xero for recording, overseeing and claiming expenses, Wave for sending invoices and managing accounting and bookkeeping, and Dropbox Paper, helping people manage their team by offering a platform where all involved can create and review in a single shared space. Other useful apps helping entrepreneurs stay professionally organised include WorkFlowy, Grammarly and Wunderlust.
Networking apps that can enable entrepreneurs to forge important connections include the Here on Biz app, launched by Virgin America, which connects travellers to LinkedIn contacts located in the same airport or flight. Of course, there is LinkedIn, and similar business networking/collaboration platforms such as PartnerUP App and Beyond.com, which proudly calls itself “The Career Network,” as since 1998 Beyond.com has connected more than 45 million professionals with a wide-range of companies involved in the technology, healthcare, business and marketing industries.
These are just a handful of channels that brands can infiltrate to ally with the businessmen and women of tomorrow, the people who are looking outside the conventional 9-5 role and giving £1.8 trillion annually to the UK economy (The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, October 2016). There exist opportunities for brands to support people as they go after or enhance their entrepreneurial ambitions, particularly through digital advertising or social media. By partnering with some of the tools listed above, or offering educational and economic backing, brands will not only help raise the profile of smaller businesses but improve their own public image in the process.