The story from a highly frustrated UK start up Entrepreneur

The story from a highly frustrated UK start up Entrepreneur has been dictated to me by one person and told to me by others , who have similar stories.

Here is a summary of what I have discovered; May I also suggest you read a well written article by Brad Nosser, below.

Are we doing enough to support small business growth?

I posted an article into my Blog “Interco Development and Training/BASS Business Skills Charity site” called “Are we doing enough to support small business growth? in the UK (My addition)

This a well written and thought out article written by Brad Rosser, Non-Executive Chairman, Xref, who does not believe the UK Government has a well-orchestrated plan for ongoing small business support.

Personal comment.

I support the article but……

I still do not believe the report gets to the Nub of the real issue and that is for small start-ups to find actual funding both Grants and Secured and Government-backed loan funding is a nightmare.

My story that follows is from a story of a fairly astute businessman with his startup experience. I didn’t just accept it I went through his documentation and it was all confirmed.

I can now say in addition to my International experience I also have the UK as well.

The story from a highly frustrated UK start-up Entrepreneur

Having started many small businesses in South Africa and Australia and more recently helped someone on a Pro Bono basis in the UK, I can genuinely say the UK is impossible.

Please understand I agree with Brad. BUT, I believe for every 1 entrepreneur who makes it through a terrible journey, 100’s give up and or run unsustainable business until they fail.

What I have heard from a multitude of sources

Burgeoning Red tape, no real grants for working capital, some yes as long as it complies with local council rules, state funding rules retention, due diligence more paperwork and on and on.

The Journey of someone who experienced a Hull trip to hell and back

Phase 1 EOI

The journey starts by first having to complete an EOI (Expression of Interest) for the uninitiated – so far so good, and same in South Africa and Australia.  However from reading through is submitted document it was apparent thaf right from the start the average Entrepreneur does not have the economics degree and accounting wherewithal to deal with even the EOI successfully. No matter how astute.

I have a little experience in this as I have helped over 500 in 14 years of my Business.

If the applicant gets through the EOI process the approval allows you to Phase 2.

Phase 2.

Phase 2 is a more detailed regurgitation of Phase 1 with more specific outcomes. Unless you have conducted a complete marketing survey, and I assure you Your marketing must be boilerproof or you will be accused of wishful forecasting, you will not be approved. So beware and ensure that you have enough money to get a reasonably strong marketing study to confirm, as far as you can, your outcomes.

Ok, my correspondent was fortunate enough to have some cash, and managed to get funds for a small market research study someone, and had a friend who was an accountant to help him pass Phase two.

And Yet  More Red Tape

Phase Three

Now You get to the fun part if you are an economist with statistical analysis skills.

Phase 3 is called an OBC (Overall Business Case). Mostly regurgitated from Phase 1 and Phase 2,  but specifically, the document expects the entrepreneur to provide economic statistics showing “evidence of impacts on the community, area, target market,”

Not for the faint-hearted and any startup that does not have the money to go and pay at lest 1000 Pounds to get through this will definitely fail.

Phase 4..0

IF Phase 3 is approved, without too many back and forth’s, and the startup entrepreneur hasn’t gone insane he gets to the almost last hurdle. The CBC. (The Complete Business Case), which must comply with the  London Green Book “Appraisal and evaluation in central government.  HM Treasury guidance for public sector bodies on how to appraise proposals before committing funds to a policy, program or project.”

I’ve checked this out and it is the final threshing floor used as a standard to finally unsettle the stoutest of hearts.

Economic statistics,  economic value add, rules and regulations that would now scare off a bank of accountants and only if you have a PhD in Economics, (fortunately one of my Doctorate studies) would you have a chance to get through to the legal contract stage. AND, oh Yes, according to ESIF, ERDF training, if the Grant originates in any form from those two sources the auspicious startup would have to keep all the Project data for auditing between 13 and 20 years.

The story from a highly frustrated UK start up Entrepreneur

Due Diligence at all stages

Due diligence and auditing of all your application takes place from Phase 2 onwards.

Legal Contracts

If you pass this and get a legal contract that the grant has been approved, you still have a last nail in the coffin.


You must not spend any of the money you haven’t got until you reach the stage that you have to buy the items needed and then claim back.  You don’t get the Grant in advance.

This is how the British Government is helping startups and SME’s.

Wow! And we wonder why it is failing.

Grant Funding Experts

What I have found is a host of GRANT Funding “expert“s all charging to do what is supposed to be free business support or so I read all over the place on the Government websites, and claiming t find you the perfect grant source. Well most of the persons spoken to say a rather rude Anglo Axon Expression..

The Government advertises over 650 Grants, at last count on the Grants. site.

Medals provided to all who succeed. And, yes there have been many but NOT ENOUGH.

So helping startups in the UK with real grants for small entrepreneurs is a journey through hell.

Unless you have enough money to do what you want you will get nothing but hoards of people sending you emails and promises of grant funding and loans galore.

Try it and all you get to do is to fill our reams of papers for business plans – my grist – economic and marketing forecasts which funders ultimately dispute unless you have an actual order or a Grant organization has actually given you a grant, which in that case you wouldn’t need the loan, and then to be asked can you provide 100% matching personal funds.

Brick wall after brick wall.

Absolutely pathetic. – to such an extent I am not going to be helping anyone else – Pro-Bono or not. I will unfortunately have to leave them to the thousands of grant consultants out there.

I’m going back to South Africa after visiting my brother who has lived in Hull for 15 year. The experiences of listening to UK business both small and medium have left me with a bitter taste in my mouth for what I perceive to be a government disgrace in a very poor and disjointed and very fragmented approach to helping small business startup.

It’s probably why that whilst I was born in Aylesbury I have really been battling to come “home.”

The story from a highly frustrated UK start-up Entrepreneur

Some Statistics 

  • The number of UK business births continued to increase from 383,000 to 414,000 between 2015 and 2016, a birth rate of 14.6% compared with a rate of 14.3% in 2015.
  • The number of UK business deaths also increased from 283,000 to 328,000 between 2015 and 2016, a death rate of 11.6% compared with a rate of 10.5% in 2015.
  • London was the region with the highest birth rate at 17.5% and the highest death rate at 14%.
  • In broad industry terms, business administration and support services had the highest business birth rate at 23.1% and finance and insurance had the highest death rate at 17%.

Source:  UK office For National Statistic Released December 2017.  

I have been coming back to the UK every year for thirty years to see if the time is ripe to return home.  But finally, now I have seen the decline of a once Great Nation to what it is today. In an ever declining downward curve. Wages for 10 years have hardly moved and yet costs, especially food costs, have grown massively.

Median growth rate of gross nominal weekly earnings in different sectors
UK, 2002 to 2016      
Source: Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, Office for National Statistics   

I know I do the shopping when I come to the UK. It has become every expensive to visit here and has gotten worse and worse to visit. In addition to our Rand exchange rates that have fluctuated from R20 to £1; Now  at R17.16 to £1, making it cheaper to buy Pounds, you still get far less “bang for Your Pound.

I wouldn’t like to call the UK a smashed economy as it is still supposedly a Financial Powerhouse. BUT, it is seriously flawed still mired in the 2008 world ebacle, whist Communist China has become a veritable Tiger.  As South African’s know, you cannot sustain anything with a 1 to 2% growth rate.


Brexit, I believe, is the and now Trump rattling the trade Tariff chains, is UK’s last death knell, in my, the Labour Government’s and Conservative Rebel’s opinion.

You have lost World War 3.

South Africa has come up with far more attractive schemes which actually do support small startups. I have worked with IDC (Industrial Development Corporation , wholly owned by the Department of Trade and Industry) for years and have been a Senior IDC Support Expert, appointed by the Minister of Trade and Industry for all that time. Applications are online with a standard business plan template and necessary statutory requirements to satisfy FICA.

I have seen and given real support, not just talk. Yes, the money that is granted and loaned also takes about 6 months, but you get it with standardized applications to a single source and a single contact;  it is almost painless. The IDC help you through every step of the way, and when you get your grant or loan, you also get free access to nearly R 500,000/£30,000 of business support. IDC can also arrange to pay directly to the provider of the service needed as long as you get three quotes and the item is in the approved business plan.

I have successfully applied for R800 million in the last few years mentioned.

Loans under R 5 million/£265,000 are dealt with by SEFA (Small Enterprise Funding Agency – a wholly owned IDC subsidiary).  Again a standard application online with statutory requirements, like IDC and a check to ensure you are not a money laundering operation. I have had the good fortune of getting someone a loan in 5 weeks.


Should you wish to contact me regarding the post, please use the form below.

On a more positive note. I will be back in South Africa ready to do business in May 2018.

If you wish to find out what I charge to do the necessary application for an IDC or SEFA Loan including the standard business plan, then use the form, you may be pleasantly surprised

Remember if your application is approved you get free business support after that.

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