Tag Archives: entrepreneurial network

The High Street is dead for startups

Why would you run a shop on the high street, except for tattoo, vape and coffee bars, I can’t think of a reason to do so.

The greed of local councils and national government  via business rates has well and truly killed the high street. The fact that business rates and the price of the property are linked means that the only people who win are pension funds as their balance sheet increases on an annual basis.

If a group of businesses work together to build the footfall of an area and look after the area, the rates will go up as the value of the properties will increase. If they are renting this from a landlord they will also put the rent up as the business rates should be linked. So local shops owners are not encourage to make the surrounding areas pleasurable. This is why councils are always do it, so it makes them more money through rates. When was the last time you say we will go to this town as they have nice pavements?

Local councils and also shopping mall owners have always been looking for that one mega store to have prime position, thinking it will draw in the customers, yet the majority of people go into town for a coffee these days. So I don’t see anyone soon taking a BHS sized positions and selling coffee. Their model is now destroyed.

If the shopping mall carves up the space into smaller units which doesn’t pay business rates or at a much smaller rate per sq ft, then the council loses out on their income.  So they are happy for the shopping mall to keep paying them for the empty store.

Everyone is locked into a system which slowing killing itself. It seems the stakeholders who make this happen want the high street to be unsustainable, the rent is too high, the rates are too high, the buildings are low quality in terms of size and energy efficiency. If they get someone to invest in the high street, then pension fund is not interested in the community. Its just a mess.

We all know who and what the competition is, Amazon, eBay, alilbaba, all of whom run low cost operations in low cost buildings with low cost employees and a flexible operating base.  

As customers we all want excellent service and this costs money: staff training, support and development over many years to ensure they know the product, the features and the benefits for every customer demographic who walks through the door. The customer is willing to pay, just look at coffee shops, tattoos and vape shops, all of which employ people who are passionate and knowledgeable about the product or service.

The high street should be the experience capital of a town, a place to go and take in the culture of the place, to engage with our fellow human beings on a peer citizen level. A place where it’s safe to walk in the fresh air and look and smell the sights. People are just as happy to go into town and walk around the market, watch a juggler and take a coffee. So all those councillors go figure, how this is going to make money for your town (and don’t just say parking charges or make the pavements look betters). Local councils need to understand they are custodians of an entrepreneurial retail ecosystem and they are failing because of their greed and lack of understanding of the real needs of their community.

High street is dead for startups
High street is dead for startups

Some charity shops should be banned from the high street as they provide no revenue for core services for local people. In some cases their products are more expensive, they don’t provide local employment and don’t engage with local community support. These shops should be handed over to a young unemployed people who can make a go of it and help local people.

Unless something radically changes in the UK, then the high street has lost all hope and will never recover from Woolworths, BHS, Littlewoods, C&A and a lots more. There has been many reports and yet noting has happened.

The entrepreneurial network – selecting yours

One of the least understated resource which any budding entrepreneur needs is a personal entrepreneurial network. When I run business startup programmes, the truly lasting resource they gain is a network of like minded people. The skill learnt is to be able to find out a common fact within 60 seconds and engage that person on a entrepreneurial level and is one of the first skills we learn as entrepreneurs.

There are numerous entrepreneurial networks offering different types of resources to start or improve entrepreneurial projects. However when selecting a network what is the criteria you should use to make you decision. Here are seven traits to look for.

Social capital

When we look at social capital with entrepreneurial networks, we see a number of factors which highlight the importance of the network and the development of trust. A number of researchers have underlined the importance of networks and social capital (Aldrich-Zimmer 1986, Burt 1992, Adler-Kwon 2002). There are numerous definitions of social capital, but the most appropriate one is ‘features of social organization such as networks, norms, and social trust that facilitate coordination and cooperation for mutual benefit’ (Putnam 1995, p. 67). What social trust does the network promote?

Collective Self-Efficacy

Collective efficacy refers to a group’s shared belief in its conjoint capabilities to attain their goals and accomplish desired tasks (Bandura, 1986). The network should want to collaborate in collective action to address the problems within the group. This mean the continue mutual benefit should remain through the stages of enterprise development. So how will you get the most out of this network while you grow? What can you provide to the group and what will they provide you?

Social Organization

The network should be organized with rules, routines and opportunities to engage with every member. According to Shane and Venkataraman (2000) the domain of entrepreneurship is a connection between opportunities and enterprising individuals. This connection within the network needs to be organized for it to be effective for you as a member. Look for network which provide these connection opportunities within its social structure.

Entrepreneurial set of norms

The entrepreneurial network has a set of norms which will help define the enterprise development,  the business opportunities, the skills and the opportunities for future enhancement of the entrepreneur. What are the set of norms you will need?

  • Innovation – Combined with leadership, the entrepreneurial network is an indispensable kind of social network not only necessary to properly run the business or project, but also to differentiate  itself.
  • Beliefs  – Social beliefs are the expectations around which we organize daily social life. They allow us to put order into the world around us through kinship and social values. Does the network fit with your beliefs?
  • Behaviors – The behavior traits such as dominance, extrovert, patience and conformity will be held within the group. Does it contain the right mix for your success?
  • Routine –  In general, entrepreneurs manage the risks around them by developing procedures and routines that enable them to access a suitable solution when a problem arises (Edvinsson and Malone 1999; Roos et al. 2001). If you have a regular access to the group, they can form part of you risk reduction strategy.

Size of Network

The network should have the diversity of people but also be large enough for you to constantly finding new people and opportunities. However your person network should be solid enough for people to know you well enough to interact with and provide and receive opportunities. The critical elements of the network are nodes, (members) and links (relationships) (Gartner 1988, Burt et al. 1994, Lipnack-Stamps 1994). So

  • How well do you need to know someone to consider them part of your network?
  • How many people can you consider to part of your network?

The network should be at ten times larger than this number. This allows for you be able to develop as a business owner and also find new people to discuss the entrepreneurial mindset.

Diversity of Membership

The importance of a diverse range of members in the network important in being able to quickly gain adequate human resources to fulfill the entrepreneurial achievements. These fit into the following groups.

  • Business Services: Lawyers, Accountants, Marketing, Sales
  • Co-Founders: Technologists, Scientists, Engineers, Business managers
  • Client & Suppliers
  • Partners – high skilled employees, mentors, investors

Online Network

The internet provides a faster and more reliable method of connecting and sharing with others. Therefore we see more entrepreneurial networks, both on dedicated sites and also on the main stream social networks such as twitter, Facebook and also Linkedin.  Twitter is many groups of people who are dedicated to enterprise providing the information which is needed to start and develop a business.  Linkedin has many groups which debate and connections can be developed to share business ideas and opportunities.

Chamber of commerce – http://www.britishchambers.org.uk/

Federation for small business http://www.fsb.org.uk/

Institute of directors – http://www.iod.com/

Enterprise Nation – http://www.enterprisenation.com/

NACUE – http://www.nacue.com/

Shell Livewire http://www.shell-livewire.org/

Sandbox – http://www.sandbox-network.com/