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How to increase Norfolk’s entrepreneurial activity!

Abygail Hadley, Hethel Innovation

Making Norfolk more Entrepreneurial

  • Only 480 businesses created per 10,000 residents 

  • 10.8% of enterprises were start-ups in 2017 compared to the national average of 14.5% 

Market town incubators 

Incubators support the development of start-up businesses by providing them with guidance, resources, and often financial support through reduced rent costs. As well as this, businesses are immersed in a supportive environment where they can guide one another. The average survival rate of start-ups after five years in the UK is 44.1%, businesses who have been supported by an incubator, in general, have a much higher chance of survival. For example, businesses who have been incubated by Hethel Engineering Centre have a survival rate of 83% after 5 years. 

Because Norfolk is so rural it can be a particularly challenging environment to start a business in, with start-ups often finding it difficult to access the support they need. Developing market town incubators across Norfolk would provide businesses with a platform to get started. As businesses established they would be able to leave the incubator, allowing room for new start-ups to move in. This would increase our start-up rate, survival rate, and help improve the economy of our market towns. 

Developing Enterprising Schools and Colleges 

From a young age, students are taught about science, maths, English, P.E., but we rarely see them being taught about the prospect of running a business. We can not expect the next generation to aspire to be an entrepreneur when they’re not even aware of the concept. Introducing enterprise programs in schools and colleges will help instil entrepreneurial skills in students from a young age. When they leave school, if they decide they want to start their own business it does not make it such a daunting task. 

Delivering enterprise programs in schools can be a lot of fun for students, they get to imagine what their dream business would be, why they would choose that, and how they might go about running it. There is the opportunity for all students to be involved and make their most of their skills if they are better at maths they can focus on the financial side, and if they are good at art they can develop a marketing plan. 

As students get to the end of school, sixth form, college, and university, there may be a real drive to start a business. At this age having an enterprise club in a place where students can access advice and resources for starting a business can create entrepreneurs from a young age. Being able to connect these students with real entrepreneurs locally will help provide them with the support they need as well as giving them inspiration. 

Enterprise Support Networks

Running a small business can be a lonely task sometimes, especially if you are running that business from home and the majority of your communication is done over the internet. Developing enterprise support networks provides entrepreneurs with the platform to connect with like minded people, whether they need advice, support, or just to complain about an awkward customer, they provide an outlet and network of people to rely on. Networking doesn’t only provide a place to develop skills and knowledge, but it helps reduce stress and anxiety. 

Networks can be sector focused such as the New Anglia Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering (NAAME) network, or they can be general and informal, such as the Norwich Small Business and Entrepreneurs meet-up. Whatever your business is there will be a suitable network available for you to join.