A look at the support available to entrepreneurs: Which schemes are a waste of money and which are the real deal?

Henry Moulton discovers that the reality is that if you want your Enterprise Support Organisation to be truly successful, you need to be offering your resources for free because you're competing with other organisations that are either government suppprted (StartUp Britain) or private-sector funded (Shell LiveWire).

StartUp Britain

Recently, the Prime Minister made a speech in Leeds to rally support of the national enterprise campaign for StartUp Britain.  In his speech he said: “This isn’t something we’d quite like to do; this is something we’ve absolutely got to do because enterprise is critical to this country’s future.”

From my knowledge of economics I know enterprise is an important factor that helps a country to recover and flourish. “In other words there is only one sensible and sustainable way to grow your economy and that is through brave people starting and growing businesses, employing people and creating wealth.”

Therefore, since it is important for entrepreneurs to start businesses, it is important that they receive worthwhile support.

I started learning about entrepreneurship in early 2011; around the time I turned 17. What I have found is that there are several ‘Enterprise Support Organisations’ that offer support to entrepreneurs and I think that the quality of the support that they offer varies.

Shell LiveWIRE

James Smith, Chairman, Shell UK Ltd with the Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2010, Jessica Grosvenor, and Mark Prisk MP. Henry Moulton believes that Shell LiveWIRE has been of great benefit to entrepreneurs by awarding funding and offering free advice to help people become self-employed.

The first of these Enterprise Support Organisations that I discovered was Shell LiveWire. Shell LiveWire will have been around for 30 years in 2012, and I believe has been of great benefit to entrepreneurs by awarding funding and offering free advice to help people become self-employed through their online Forums and Business Library.

Its monthly award with up to 5x £1000 funding for new business ideas is particularly attractive for aspiring entrepreneurs as I found out myself. My business idea was selected by their panel of business experts to make the shortlist of 10 business ideas. A video is then uploaded by each of those shortlisted, and then voted upon by the general public.

The next interesting Enterprise Support Organisation I found was RockStar Youth. RockStar Youth claims to be:

“The UK’s Number 1 mentoring organisation for business owners looking to grow or raise finance.”

Initially I thought this was excellent, an organisation that helps young entrepreneurs grow their businesses. But on closer inspection, in order to gain access to their mentors, you have to pay £50 for each of their modules such as:

  • Building your business plan.
  • Completing your financial forecasts.

£100 for the most basic lessons in business. Alternatively, you can do what I did and go to your choice of bank and they will offer support with your business plan and financial forecasts free of charge. Why? Because they want to hook you up one of the bank’s Business accounts.

Admittedly RockStar Youth does offer mentor support with each module, but how much help do you need from an entrepreneur who has been there and done it to complete a financial forecast? This isn’t to say that I’m not against mentoring. Entrepreneurship aside, I think having a mentor gives guidance and support that anyone trying to go further should listen to. But the way that mentoring is applied at RockStar Youth appears to be broken.

Furthermore, what interests me is that the founder of RockStar Youth is Sean Hamilton, 20. Should young entrepreneurs be making money by charging other developing entrepreneurs money to learn entrepreneurship?

What really bothers me is that while I appreciate people such as Sean trying to help young people such as myself, I would rather take advice or learn from someone more experienced.

Carly Ward

Carly Ward "The Young Millionaire Maker" who was 19 when she started The 12 Steps to Success Programme "by accident".

Another example of this is Carly Ward “The Young Millionaire Maker” who was 19 when she started The 12 Steps to Success Programme “by accident”. In an interview with business website Smarta she says; “I decided to create a quick and easy programme for young people to learn entrepreneurial and personal development skills.”

“The programme is an easy to follow 12 step journey to show you what entrepreneurship is all about, how some of the most successful people in the UK have made it, their stories and advice, plus lots of personal development skills as well. It is truly inspiring to learn from the best on how to be the best. If entrepreneurship is for you, follow the 12 steps and you will make it!”

Now I know it sounds good, but the price is £150. But don’t worry, if you’re not sure about buying it, you can try it out and learn the first step to success here: http://www.youngentrepreneursociety.org.uk/step-1/

Did you feel inspired and ready to succeed? I didn’t. Did you buy it? I didn’t. Now I’m not saying don’t buy it, however I will offer some alternatives:

Financial Times Business Start Up Guide 2012

If you learn better through reading rather than listening, Henry recommends The Financial Times Guide to Business Start Up 2012

If you’re not looking to learn about business but rather success in general, don’t read any of the books suggested on the Young Entrepreneur Society website, the truth is they probably won’t make you successful. However, two books that are widely considered to help you become successful are: How to Win Friends and Influence People and Habits of Highly Effective People both of these were published before Carly Ward was born, have sold millions of copies and most importantly have stood the test of time.

StartUp Britain

Henry describes how StartUp Britain was founded by eight entrepreneurs and launched on 28th March 2011 by the Prime Minister, with the full support of the Chancellor and HM Government, although it is completely funded by our private-sector sponsors.

Next step, go out and meet people, network. I think the best way to this would be to look at the StartUp Britain calendar, a resource that crowd-sources many of the events that occur across the UK. Honestly I think StartUp Britain in itself is great, from the website:

“The campaign was founded by eight entrepreneurs and launched on 28th March 2011 by the Prime Minister, with the full support of the Chancellor and HM Government, although it is completely funded by our private-sector sponsors.”

To conclude, I think the support given to young entrepreneurs is improving, and that definitely can be said in terms of quantity with the recent rise of enterprise support schemes such as of TeenBiz, Enterprise Labs and Enterprise Days. However, the quality of resources available to young entrepreneurs needs to improve. The reality is that if you want your Enterprise Support Organisation to be truly successful, you need to be offering your resources for free because you’re competing with other organisations that are either government supported (StartUp Britain) or private-sector funded (Shell LiveWire). Want to really help? Go out and do it.

Henry is 18. Currently, Henry is completing his A Levels and co-organising TeenWeb Conference.  You can find him in London where he is in his final year of school, planning to study Information Management for Business at UCL. You can follow him over @henryforshort.