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Tony Robinson OBE

Call for changes to Start Up Loans Scheme

12 June 2015 10:00


Call for changes to the Government ‘Start up Loans’ scheme

Tina Boden and Tony Robinson OBE, both independent business owners, with 50 years combined experience are co-founders of the Enterprise Rockers movement which backs micro enterprise everywhere. They believe Government should take immediate action to prevent Start Up Loans becoming a financial burden for many, as Student Loans have become.

Tina Boden, co-founder of the Enterprise Rockers, established January 2012, explains why: “We engage with hundreds of thousands of micro business owners on an informal basis - as peers. We don't sell our peers anything - not even membership. Yet, every week we get approached by government providers wanting us to help them generate leads for schemes they're selling to start ups and micro business owners.

The most hard sell initiative of these schemes is ‘Start up Loans’. Government is paying a fortune in provider fees, advertising, marketing and administration costs to get high take up. It's fabulous news that Government are backing start ups but there are dangers in the way it's being sold. Start Up loans probably average £6,000 per loan which is at least 3 times more than most micro business owners start up with. Although we do want Government to continue supporting new businesses and believe low cost loans are important, we say 'No' to these Government partners and providers. We would like to say ‘Yes we'll promote the scheme for you’.”

“My prediction is that at least 1 in 5 new business owners will default on repayments and 2 in 5 will get into financial difficulties because of taking a Start Up Loan’ says Tony Robinson OBE, co-founder Enterprise Rockers. The survival rate of start ups with a Start Up Loan will be no higher than those that have started without a loan but have sought free start up advice from their local Enterprise Agency. The intent behind the scheme is great but the timing is rubbish. We all know that 99% of start-up business plans are fiction because it’s only when the business has live, paying customers that it can get its offer right and start to predict future income.

Advisers and mentors in the scheme, see it as their job to help the new business owners get going, with a loan, as that is how the provider gets paid. Some advisers may not even be in a good place to understand the chances of success because they haven’t started and run their own business.

The new business owner often hasn't a realistic view of how much they’ll earn. it is why test trading is so important and we say don't give up any of your other income sources until you've test traded. We also recommend ‘bootstrap don’t borrow’ until you really know what you’re doing and how to grow your business.”

Boden and Robinson say the solution is to not allow anyone a Start Up loan until they have been trading or test trading for a minimum of 6 months. “We’d prefer if this was 18 months test trading and trading but we realise Government are not going to change the name of the scheme and 18 months makes it a 'New Business Loan' rather than a 'Start Up Loan'.”

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Press Contacts

Tony Robinson OBE

Co-founder Enterprise Rockers, Chair Business Advisory Bureau Limited and SFEDI Founder

Tel: 07715 749079


About Tony Robinson OBE

Tony Robinson OBE is known as the Micro Business Champion. He is an authority on micro enterprise and is a professional speaker and writer on this subject. He also writes poetry and fiction with his latest novel (November 2017) being 'Loose Cannon' and his most well known work being the fictional satire 'Freedom from Bosses Forever'.

Tony has also founded and directed a number of social enterprises to improve the quality of learning and support for new enterprise owners. The most famous of these is the SFEDI Group which includes the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs. The most recent is Enterprise Rockers CIC which promotes the #MicroBizMatters global movement and the annual #MicroBizMatters Day.

Tony is on a never ending tour with his 'Micro is Magic' Conference talk which suggests that for the majority of business owners there is a better way than the American Way to start up, survive and thrive.

In January 2012, Tony Robinson OBE, co-founded the independent, informal, free to join in, no contact details required, #MicroBizMatters Movement. @MicroBizMatters , part of Enterprise Rockers CIC , has one aim and five campaigns.

The aim is to make life better for micro (0-9 employees and up to £2million turnover) enterprise owners around the world and the campaigns are #PayIn30Days; Indie25ER; #NotAnSME; #CallOutTheBizBullies and #MicroBizMatters Day.

Co-founder and co-funder of the Enterprise Rockers, Tina Boden, and Tony spent a year testing the concept and recruiting well known entrepreneurs as Head Roadies and Band Leaders to launch the movement. The movement does no lobbying as it is about micro enterprise helping micro enterprise. The co-founders call this the #PowerOfPlenty.

Since launch they have attracted many Friends of the Enterprise Rockers. These are networks of micro enterprise owners within membership organisations and client/customer groups. Hundreds of thousands of self employed and business owners have been helped by this informal, self help movement.

The success of their campaigns and their film 'What Makes Enterprise Rock?' inspired the co-founders to organise the first global, #MicroBizMattersDay on the third anniversary of the Enterprise Rockers CIC, January 9th 2015. Tony and Tina interviewed business owners and celebrity entrepreneurs and live streamed from Google for Work in London, supported by Sage UK.

The second global #MicroBizMattersDay took place on January 8th 2016 with 8 hours live streaming from Portobello Business Centre. Business owners around the world give 8 minutes to help other business owners and the day was supported by all the major business membership organisations with headline support from ScanSnap (a Fujitsu company), Microsoft and Sage. The day trended on twitter for 5 hours and the target of over one million business owners being involved was exceeded.

The third #MicroBizMattersDay took place on January 13th 2017 with the Main Event Partner being Pimlico Plumbers and International Development Partner being ScanSnap (a Fujitsu Company). Again it was the biggest social media event for business owners and trended on twitter for over 7 hours. The day presents 8 learning hours and is truly a day of Recognition, Action (#IGave13) and Learning.

The fourth #MicroBizMattersDay takes place on 12th January 2018 with the main event and live broadcasting being hosted by XYZ Works - an amazing new co-working and events space on three floors in the heart of Manchester's financial area.

Tony and Tina's famous friends have supported #MicroBizMatters Day throughout and they include Tim Campbell MBE, Sway (Mercury Award winner), Kanya King MBE, Penny Power OBE, Emma Jones MBE, Chris Percival, Charlie Mullins OBE. Michelle Dorrell, Laura Henry and Elaine Clark.

Tony and Tina have individual micro enterprises, both for longer than 20 years, and are well known in the UK for their work to support and promote start ups and business ownership. Tony and Tina are Small and Micro Business Ambassadors for a number of organisations, events and campaigns. Tina is a founder ambassador of Small Business Saturday.

Tony received an OBE for services to small firms in 2001 and received two lifetime awards for enterprise in 2012 (from the IAB at the House of Commons) and 2013 (from Start Your Business Magazine). He founded the SFEDI Group in 1996 and remains a co-owner. He is co-founder and a Fellow of the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs. He is also a NED of Yorkshire Coast Enterprise Agency.

He co-founded in 1986, and still runs, (Executive Chair) with Clare Francis (Company Secretary), the Business Advisory Bureau Limited.. The Business Advisory Bureau Limited specialises in assisting large organisations, private and public sector, to engage with and supply small and micro enterprise owners. The other Directors are Tina Boden (Managing) and Nigel Hudson (Research & Learning)

Tony has written seven books of which the best known is the fictional political and business satire with practical own business tips;- "Freedom from Bosses Forever". It is available as kindle book, paperback and audio book.

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