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Supporting SMEs Q4 2023

Entrepreneurship is not inclusive: how do we change this?

iStock / Getty Images Plus / JLco - Julia Amaral

Michelle Ovens

Founder, Small Business Britain

Despite the UK being an amazing place to start a business, there are significant barriers to entry, particularly for marginalised communities.

The UK’s 5.5 million small businesses are an exceptionally vibrant force that represents an incredible variety of entrepreneurial backgrounds. However, our system isn’t always fair. If you are a disabled entrepreneur, for instance, there are even more hurdles to surmount.

To adequately support our nation’s small businesses and help them to power our much-needed economic recovery and growth, we have to consider all life experiences and backgrounds. 

Barriers to entry for entrepreneurs

While there is a wealth of support for small businesses, there is also uneven delivery, which is often due to a lack of accessibility. This holds everyone back — from programmes that don’t proactively target marginalised communities to events that mandate in-person attendance and inaccessible websites and high costs. This excludes a large proportion of entrepreneurs.

At Small Business Britain, we recently launched a report with Lloyds Bank. It consulted 500 disabled founders on their experiences and shared recommendations on how entrepreneurial support can be made more accessible (roughly a quarter of all small business owners).

This research showed a need for greater inclusion and celebration of the contribution of disabled entrepreneurs. This is something we put at the heart of the Small Business Saturday campaign, which took place on the 2nd of December.

Research showed a need for greater inclusion
and celebration of the contribution of
disabled entrepreneurs.

Inclusive entrepreneurial celebration 

Small Business Saturday UK celebrates small business success and encourages consumers to ‘shop local’ and support businesses in their communities. A grassroots, not-for-profit campaign, it was originally founded by American Express in the U.S. in 2010. The brand remains the principal supporter of the campaign in the UK.

Running for over a decade in the UK, it has engaged millions and seen billions of pounds spent with small businesses across the UK on Small Business Saturday. Representing the real people behind the small business economy has been at the heart of the campaign for over a decade, and it grows in impact every year.

In the words of the Barbie movie: ‘You have to try. Even if you can’t make it perfect, you can make it better.’ We must focus on progress and always make sure we are asking those with the least access how we can support them to make things better. This way, we can do more to ensure our nation’s small businesses have abundant (and equal) opportunities to prosper.

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