Entrepreneurs still see opportunities

AROUND half of the region's entrepreneurs still see the current economic climate as “an opportunity”, according to research carried out at a business event staged by the East of England Development Agency.

AROUND half of the region's entrepreneurs still see the current economic climate as “an opportunity”, according to research carried out at a business event staged by the East of England Development Agency.

The “bootcamp” session - held to launch BizGrowthEast, a new programme of support from EEDA for entrepreneurs - attracted nearly 200 delegates who, besides receiving a day of intensive coaching from serial entrepreneur and investor Doug Richard, were asked for their views on the outlook for business.

When asked if they believed now was a good time to start a business, 49% delegates said they believed it was, with 33% undecided and only 19% feeling it was not - which Doug Richard said backed up his own beliefs.

“Although what is currently happening in the world's financial markets is unprecedented, I agree with those that say there is no better time - I started half my businesses during a downturn,” he said.


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“When you set up in this type of climate, you tend to be better disciplined and create a much sharper business. If you can sell something to someone during these tough times then you are validating your business at its worst point - everything else is up from there on in.

“One thing I would say is that businesses must take advantage of the support available; it substantially increases their chances of success.”

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The survey also revealed that while only 34% feel the credit crunch has affected them so far, most expect to have to adapt to keep ahead: 78% expect to have to innovate; 59% intend to diversify; and 53% aim to seek efficiencies such as reducing energy consumption.

Access to cash and finding new customers were perceived as the biggest challenges entrepreneurs currently face. Correspondingly, help in securing funding and marketing were the areas cited as the ones in which they would most like support.

Mark Shillito, senior commercial manager and divisional technology banking manager at HSBC, which sponsored the event, said: “It was great to see so many new businesses so positive, and taking the initiative to create a stronger base for their business.”

Richard Ellis, chairman of EEDA, added: “The Bootcamp was a first for the East of England. Insight from an experienced entrepreneur, such as Doug Richard, is invaluable but the interactive nature of the programme delivered added value with 97% of delegates rating the day good or excellent.

“The survey results are an interesting reflection of the positivity and drive of entrepreneurs in the region. But it's all the more important that we make sure we deliver the right support at the right time - and make sure that it is easy to find.

“I would encourage all entrepreneurs to register for the programme and make use of our recently launched Business Map to connect them with a wide range of advice, support, networks and funding available.”

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