City will be ready to help its businesses

POSITIVE Action Stations at the Historic Dockyard in Portsmouth.
POSITIVE Action Stations at the Historic Dockyard in Portsmouth.
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It is already setting records, and it hasn’t even taken place.

Throughout next week Portsmouth’s businesses will, for the first time, be taking part in Global Entrepreneurship Week.

Business secretary Vince Cable

Business secretary Vince Cable

It is a festival of events that will seek to answer questions such as what makes a successful entrepreneur, why some entrepreneurs succeed while others fail, and how they go about getting investment for their ideas.

Global Entrepreneurship Week is the world’s largest campaign to promote entrepreneurship, and Portsmouth is to have its biggest number of events hosting by one city.

Each year, GEW plays a critical role in encouraging the next generation of entrepreneurs to consider starting up their own business, with more than 94,000 people taking part in 720 UK events, and spanning over 130 countries with a total participation of 7.5 million people.

Simon Frost, chief executive of city-based Parity Trust, which helps fund social projects, says: ‘Global Entrepreneurship Week is very important, as it will create jobs, and change people’s lives. It is a practical resource as there are many people out there who are willing to provide help to individuals and organisations.’

Shena Mitchell, co-founder of the city's Solent Innovation business space

Shena Mitchell, co-founder of the city's Solent Innovation business space

Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, will launch Global Entrepreneurship Week 2013 on Monday at a Youth Business International and Barclays event at Westminster Kingsway College.

And it has the backing of the Prime Minister, David Cameron, who says: ‘Global Entrepreneurship Week is about growing enterprise ambition and ensuring that those with ideas know where to get the support they need to make them a reality.

‘It’s about creating jobs and opportunities: small business in the UK employs nearly 60 per cent of the workforce and contributes almost half of UK turnover.’

More than 60 business-related events will take place in Portsmouth and will cover everything from starting a technology business to changing careers to networking with others of shared business interests.

The number of people starting their own business has increased in the past five years, often due to redundancies taking place and increases in funding for start-ups as a way to try and reduce the number of people out of work.

That fact is particularly resonant in the city as, last week, 940 redundancies were announced at BAE Systems in Portsmouth and 100 redundancies to be made at Zurich Insurance in Segensworth.

Portsmouth’s participation in the GEW is being co-ordinated by a fleet of volunteers headed up by Dr Shena Mitchell, lecturer at the University of Portsmouth and co-founder of the city’s Solent Innovation business space.

She said a highlight of the week would be the Solent Business Angels Conference at which guest speakers would face a question and answer session.

Dr Mitchell said speakers would include UK Business Angels chief executive Jenny Tooth, a representative from global sports retailer Wiggle and Portsmouth entrepreneur Rachel Lowe.

She added: ‘Our aim is to raise awareness about how and why people start their own business, and how we can support existing business owners on their journey. We’re keen to unite the various different organisations around the city that support start-up businesses and entrepreneurs to work together and collaborate.’

Among the guests at the conference will be Peter Eales, founding director of Bournemouth-based Silicon Beach Business Angels.

Mr Eales says one of the week’s goals was to let prospective entrepreneurs know there was support available.

‘The great thing about it is that there are people out there who can help you and give you mentoring.

‘In angel networks like ours there are training sessions available and there are people who can talk to you and give you help.

‘You don’t have to be alone.’

Mr Eales says entrepreneurs needed both brute determination and solid business sense to succeed.

‘They need the ability to deal with failure because often entrepreneurs are unsuccessful before they become successful. They also must have incredible self belief.

‘And it’s important to have a good grasp of cash flow and be able to deal with financial data and numbers.

‘These type of things may seem rather dull but at the end of the day it’s absolutely crucial.’

Global Entrepreneurship Week will also see the launch of Entrepreneurs Unite, a group dedicated to encouraging innovation and new businesses in Portsmouth throughout the year.

Portsmouth City Council city development manager Claire Upton-Brown said entrepreneurship was important for the growth of the region’s economy.

Ms Upton-Brown says: ‘The council is pro-actively promoting entrepreneurship and innovation around the city.

‘We are placing a renewed focus on inward investment and supporting entrepreneurs and business start-ups, working with partners to attract companies to the city and to encourage the development of skills among our residents that today’s global employers are seeking.’

SOLENT ANGELS BUSINESS CONFERENCE

The Solent Angels Business Conference is to be the highlight of the week, and takes place on Friday, November 22 at Action Stations within Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

It will include a question and answer session with the angels, who are business experts on hand to help fledgling companies find their feet.

Portsmouth does not have it’s own dedicated angels network, though there are organisations such as Integritie which match entrepreneurs with local mentors.

Dr Mitchell says: ‘The questions will be about how they dealt with challenges, and we want them to be honest about cash flow.

‘If they’ve been bankrupt we want to ask what they did when that happened and how they got out of it.

‘In the case of a business like Wiggle, we’ll want to ask how they went from being a little shop in Portsmouth to being a global company.’

Dr Mitchell says the key questions would be about what made an entrepreneur.

‘What makes one person more successful than another and how should young entrepreneurs go about choosing a business partner and choosing an investor?’

The Solent Angels Business Conference will take place from 1.30pm to 6pm, following an ‘Angels’ Den’ event, from 10am to 12.30pm, at which entrepreneurs will pitch business ideas to a panel of investors.

Members of the public will be able to sit in and learn what it takes to get investment.

A drinks and canapes session at the Mary Rose Museum from 6.30pm to 10pm will conclude the conference.

WHAT’S ON

Among the 64 events booked for the week, these are some of the highlights:

· Shaping the Future of Portsmouth conference, at the Portsmouth Guildhall on Monday 18. It will officially launch Portsmouth’s biggest ever involvement in Global Entrepreneurship Week, and begins from 9am and lasts until 3.30pm.

The day will be a mixture of debate, key note speakers and presentations with plenty of opportunities to network and visit stands.

The conference will be making its first Shaping Awards presentations, with the focus this year on entrepreneurship.

· Coffee with Grow! - Morning networking events for specific groups on each day of the week. These coffee sessions will be hosted by innovation business coach Lynn Wade who has helped launch more than 20 businesses. The November 18 event will be for women entrepreneurs, November 19 for coaches, mentors and trainers, November 20 for the self-employed, November 21 for people in not-for-profit groups and November 22 for dyslexic entrepreneurs. The sessions will take place at the Corner Cafe in Landport Terrace, Portsmouth from 8am-9am.

· Entrepreneurs showcase and launch party of Youthweek Portsmouth - Entrepreneurs aged 16 to 30 can get inspiration, motivation and advice from industry experts. Youthweek is a biannual event designed to help young people already in business or are looking for ways to enter the business world. The showcase and launch party will be on November 18 from 6.30pm to 9.30pm at Portsmouth’s Innovation Warehouse.

· Meet the Entreprenablers - To be hosted by the Shaping Portsmouth’s Business and Enterprise Workstream Team, this event will bring together four business areas for people who want to start or grow their own business. To take place on November 18 from 6.30pm to 9.30pm at 1000 Lakeside in North Harbour.

· Taking card payments - Everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask - A workshop on taking card payments and how they can boost your business’ profits. Attendees can learn about taking card-payments using a terminal face-to-face, online and over the phone. To take place on November 19 from 8am to 9.30am at the Portsmouth Innovation Warehouse in Hampshire Terrace.

· Be Your Own Tech Boss- Your Five-Step Plan to Making It! - Introduces a plan on how to capitalise on a skill or idea that you think could earn you money.

The event will be hosted by Ms Wade and executive coach Phillip Collins.

It will take place on November 20 from 12.30pm to 3.30pm at the IBM headquarters in North Harbour.

· From Coder to Author - Programmer Thomas Chamberlain will host this event for anyone interested in writing a book. Mr Chamberlain will talk about his journey from working as a coder to becoming an author and what budding writers can expect.

This event will be at the Portsmouth Innovation Warehouse on November 20 from 3pm to 6pm.

· To find out about more Global Entrepreneurship Week events, and to book, see entrepreneursunite.co.uk.