Entrepreneurs, such as those leading this year’s Fast Track 100 companies, create the jobs and wealth that supports greater investment in our public services, infrastructure and skills.
They help rebalance our economy away from its dependence on London and financial services, launching globally-ambitious companies from locations across the UK. And they also quickly embrace activity that society values, such as sustainable growth that mitigates any resulting impact on the environment.
Yet the demands that society places on entrepreneurs have never been greater. While the global economy becomes ever more competitive, and Brexit uncertainty persists, public expectations around corporate behaviour are growing, with all businesses required to show they are good corporate citizens, while also working all hours so they make a profit and pay tax.
We need to make the most of their efforts, and can do so by using public policy to remove barriers and encourage investment, and by ensuring open and simple access to world markets and global talent.
To assist the new government, BDO has created its own ‘New Economy’ manifesto to champion those running these mid-sized entrepreneurial businesses. Firstly, we think that despite the great work that Fast Track 100 and The Sunday Times does to highlight success, policymakers in Whitehall still overlook the contribution made to UK GDP by these companies.
Mid-sized businesses – which we define as those with sales of between £10m and £300m – represent only 1.5% of companies by number but account for one third of all private sector revenue and 45% of private sector employment. Yet while micro-businesses and large multi-nationals receive tailored support, there is far less focus on this cohort, despite its crucial role in driving the UK’s economic engine.
Britain also needs more geographic and sector-based powerhouses, so that it relies less on our world-leading financial services sector in London. To support their growth, the new government should prioritise essential local infrastructure projects as well as higher profile national initiatives. The potential is there to do more. As this year’s league table shows, entrepreneurs continue to scale new ventures across the country. There are 22 based in the north of England, up from 16 last year, and a further nine in the Midlands.
Although Brexit is perceived to be dampening UK businesses’ ambition to expand internationally, in some cases we have seen quite the opposite. Entrepreneurs are turning the UK’s economic uncertainty into an opportunity to explore global markets, no doubt in order to future proof the continued growth of their businesses.
We salute our entrepreneurs for thinking big and in some cases making short term sacrifices in the expectation of future rewards. Knowing that Britain values their efforts, and has their back, will make a difference.
Read more about how BDO supports ambitious, entrepreneurial businesses through our Fast Track 100 sponsorship here.
To find out what you can do to help business growth, take part in our Business Owner Outlook Survey. The survey will provide you a valuable snapshot of how you and the business owner community view the economic and political climate and your future prospects. Please complete our survey here and share your views by the 31 January.
A version of this article was published in The Sunday Times Fast Track 100 supplement on Sunday 1 December 2019.
Stuart Lisle is Tax Partner and Head of Brexit Taskforce at BDO.