The capacity of entrepreneurship to change the world for the better never ceases to amaze me. There are so many start-ups creating wonderful products and services, in an effort to change people’s lives for good.
Knowing how hard starting a business can be, I’m full of admiration for these entrepreneurs. And, wanting to help them in their mission to create positive change, we set up Virgin StartUp back in 2013 – giving English and Scottish businesses access to start-up capital, as well as mentoring to help them along the way.
But, starting a business is just the beginning – the real challenge comes when you want to scale. When I started Virgin I was lacking vital knowledge on many subjects. Luckily I had a team of talented people around me, who had strengths to complement my weaknesses. With their help we were able to grow Virgin beyond our wildest imaginations.
I was looking at some interesting numbers recently, which showed that while the UK and US have a similar number of micro-businesses, only 3.7 per cent of all businesses in the UK are small businesses – in the US, that figure is 20 per cent. This tells me that the UK eco-system isn’t great at turning start-ups into successful small businesses. A lot of this comes down to a lack of support available to entrepreneurs after starting up – support for those looking to scale.
Starting a business and scaling a business are two completely different things. There are a lot of great schemes, like Start Up Loans, helping people turn their idea into a reality, however there is little to no support available for businesses wanting to grow. Aiming to address this gap, I’m delighted that Virgin StartUp has recently launched their new StepUp initiative. The two-day programme consists of a series of workshops and networking opportunities designed to give founders the skills and connections they need to scale their business.
Those chosen to participate in the programme, which will run quarterly in London, will hear from a host of wonderful speakers and entrepreneurs who have successfully scaled their start-ups over the last few years. They will also get the chance to network with prospective mentors and investors.
The first call for applications is live right now. If you’re a founder looking to scale your business, head on over to virginstartup.org/step-up