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Feel the fear and do it anyway

Feeling unsure about setting up your own business in a post Brexit Britain? You’re not alone says NatWest’s entrepreneur development manager, Chris Kettle

We know that entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of the UK economy and that many people want to run their own company. With more businesses in Britain than ever before – more than 5.2 million – it’s clear that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well. Freedom, independence, fast pace, and the thrill of excitement about being your own boss is all hugely attractive.

While nearly half of Britons would love to be self-employed, NatWest’s recent Entrepreneurship Monitor found that fewer people think that now is a good time to start a new business than any time in the last four years. Uncertainty associated with Brexit has undoubtedly shaken the confidence of would-be entrepreneurs, dropping to 10 per cent in Q3 2016.

The research further revealed that nearly two thirds of people are held back by the fear of failure, with only a very small number (2%) of people actually taking the plunge. One of the biggest setbacks is that people think there’s not enough support in their local area in terms of advice, knowledge and funding.

With just one in 10 people considering going to a bank for business advice, this leaves the majority of potential startups struggling to access business accelerators, business advice and support networks considered crucial to their success and survival.

In my role as entrepreneur development manager at NatWest, my aim is to support startups and raise awareness of the support we can provide. I truly believe that as a bank, we have a duty to help grow the economy and support, develop and facilitate a vibrant entrepreneurial community and SME ecosystem. As they say, a rising tide really does float many boats.

The feedback from the entrepreneurs we’ve helped over the years tells us that sound business advice can be just as valuable as any money we can lend them. We provide our clients with practical help and support to achieve their business ambitions. By making available to them our reach, expertise, knowledge, finance, mentoring, know how, buildings, infrastructure and that crucial connectivity, we are really making a difference to new businesses.

Knowing that we are helping the next generation of entrepreneurs by giving them the confidence that their bank can really help their growth – not just with lending money but with complete wraparound care – is extremely rewarding. It’s for this reason we are in partnership with Entrepreneurial Spark, and have opened 12 accelerator hubs across the UK with a London hub opening in August.

Our plan is to support over 10,000 entrepreneurs over the next five years through this partnership. As part of the programme we are providing free facilities, free business advice, mentoring and support networks and access to the local region’s wider business ecosystem. We don’t take equity or charge a fee and we don’t require the entrepreneurs to bank with us.

We want to create a working environment, an ecosystem, which gives some of the top entrepreneurs in the country the best possible chance of succeeding. And it will help us succeed as a bank too – by working with some of the brightest entrepreneurs in the country, our staff are encouraged not only help but also to learn through access to innovation. I want my colleagues to start thinking like entrepreneurs so they can understand our customers better and help change the culture of the bank for the better.

Entrepreneurs and their supporters are now part of our working environments across the UK. We want the entrepreneurs to be at the heart of everything we do. No other UK bank is supporting this sort of free business accelerator at this scale and I’m proud of that. We are changing and truly putting our heart and soul into supporting entrepreneurs.

Looking further ahead, student enterprise is also high on our list so we are proud to support The Big Idea Challenge again this year. UK schools, colleges and universities have so many talented students, and giving them an opportunity to put their ideas into practice is vitally important for their development and the future of our economy.

We mentor groups of students who reach the final of The Big Idea Challenge to help inspire them to develop and grow their business idea. The winners are selected from a public vote so getting their product and video pitch spot on is crucial for success. We want to be a force for good, and make the headlines for doing good things, the right thing, with this being an example of ‘we are what we do’.

There’s a lot of good going on at NatWest and a large number of great people who work with us are determined to make a difference to support the brave, decisive, opportunistic, focussed, passionate, creative, and persistent entrepreneurs. We admire their always on work ethic, and growth mindset as they re-think, re-imagine, experiment, validate and continually execute. It’s awe inspiring and frankly something that’s helping change the culture of this proud bank.

We want to be the bank who understands entrepreneurs, who supports them and helps them grow from startup to stardom. Start now. Start where you are. Start with fear. Start with pain. Start with doubt. Start with hands shaking. Start with voice trembling. Start and don’t stop. Start where you are, with what you have – but just start.

About Chris Kettle, Entrepreneurial Development Manager, NatWest, London

In this newly created role, Chris works closely with the capital’s leading start-ups, entrepreneurs, SMEs and other organisations that make up the vibrant and buoyant London ecosystem. Over the past 11 years, Chris has held a number of customer facing and operational roles within the bank, which has enabled him to understand and identify a myriad of ways in which he and NatWest are able to support the entrepreneurs who drive economic growth and support UK PLC. Chris has always had a passion for supporting his customers through his knowledge, expertise, connectivity and knowhow and brings with him experience of working with entrepreneurs from all sectors.

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