It’s funny how, until you’re in the thick of it, you don’t realise what an immense amount of blood, sweat and tears goes into building a new business from scratch. I know this now, from first-hand experience at Atom, but as a consumer, you take for granted that businesses are just there, playing a role in life, fulfilling a need. You don’t think about what it takes for that business to get off the ground, and to keep it up and running.
I’ve just joined the Advisory Board of Tech North, an arm of Tech City, funded by the Government to accelerate the growth of digital businesses, encouraging and supporting tech entrepreneurs in the North. What a fantastic bunch of folk, truly passionate about fighting to tackle the challenges facing entrepreneurs, building and sustaining an ecosystem that breeds entrepreneurial success across the region.
One of the most important jobs they do is storytelling, understanding the real story that sits beneath building successful businesses, basing conversations in data and facts. They’re getting to the right people, in the right places and connecting diverse groups, to make sure skill-gaps, investment and support networks are being nurtured across the region.
They’re addressing critical issues head on, championing diversity and giving female entrepreneurs a voice, in what is a predominantly male dominated environment. Making sure the women working in this space are visible, and encouraging more to come join, is an important part of building a diverse and successful tech sector.
Meeting the team, a key thread of our conversations was just how difficult and stressful being a founder is. When you’re starting a new business, being connected to other founders who are experiencing the same issues, or who you can learn from, can be a lifeline. The team at Tech North are building the fundamental eco-systems needed by founders, namely support networks, guidance and access to ever important funding.
Through the programmes Tech City and Tech North are delivering, the UK is ahead of the game in terms of the breadth of support being provided to fuel business entrepreneurship – starting from the very nub of an idea, bringing it to life with access to basic skills and resources, getting the idea off the ground, right through to upscaling and growing a thriving business.
Companies House data clearly shows that entrepreneurs are on the increase in the UK, with new business start-ups in 2016 reaching a record high. We’re seeing an on-going shift in the ways people work - increasing self-employment, alongside the growth of the “gig economy” and the rise of entrepreneurs. According to recent LinkedIn research, UK entrepreneurs have increased by 6.4% over the last year.
I’m sure that as the newest addition to the Tech North Advisory Board, I’m going to learn a huge amount about the thriving tech sector across our great North region. I’m also hoping that having first-hand experience of building a business from scratch, and as a “northern gal”, I can add some pearls of wisdom to what’s needed for our success and be another female voice championing tech and entrepreneurship.
Looking back over the last few years, I’m fast concluding that building a business from scratch is only for the sadistic – you have to be all in, take the knocks alongside the successes and be resilient as hell! But it’s what fuels our economy, creates the jobs and gives you a great personal satisfaction, knowing that you’ve created something that has value to many others.
Here’s to a thriving entrepreneurial spirit!