Strong support is key to business start-ups

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Posted on 07 August 2013

Despite the current economic climate, appetite for starting-up a business in the region is still strong according to research from Keele University Science and Business Park (KUSBP).

The research, which canvassed the views of over 40 businesses across Staffordshire, highlighted the continuing strength of the region’s entrepreneurial spirit with the majority (67%) of respondents having started their own business, including 44% in the last three years. In addition, of the respondents who currently don’t own their own business, 50% have an ambition to do so in the future. 

Yet, whilst those who have an ambition to start their own business cite finance as the main barrier to turning their dream into reality (88%), only 52% of small business owners say start-up costs were their biggest challenge. The research also reveals a clear need for more mentoring and support, with 80% of respondents claiming more support is needed for start-ups and 54% of small businesses owners in the region wishing they’d had more help from an experienced entrepreneur when starting out.

Caroline Mairs, Head of Keele University Science and Business Park, comments: “Staffordshire has a strong small business community, one which is growing all the time. However, the results of KUSBP’s research highlight the need for more support for entrepreneurs, who have the desire to launch their own business but lack the financial support and know-how to go about it. 

“The research also reveals a disconnect between the perception and reality of setting up your own business. Clearly access to finance should be a major consideration for anyone looking to start a business, but for those who have already taken that step it was not seen as their main challenge.

“This is interesting and shows that the real key to a thriving small business community is not more finance, but helping budding entrepreneurs understand and access what is already available, and overcome the perception that lack of funding is holding them back.”

The research also explored the experiences of small business owners during their early years of trading and revealed more than two thirds (67%) of entrepreneurs are forced to start their business from home, with a further third (35%) spending up to five years working from home.

Caroline Mairs continues:  “For those who have taken the leap and set up their own business, many are forced to start from home, reducing their exposure to likeminded peers and the wider business community support network.  At KUSBP, we pride ourselves in the support we offer start-ups and growing businesses through our Nova Centre business growth programme, which offers start-up businesses professional premises and advice. We also encourage companies on the park to collaborate with and tap into the academic expertise available from the university.”

One successful small business in Staffordshire is Inspired Film and Video. The company, based at KUSBP, was set up in 2006 and has grown to employ seven people. Director, Chris Gibbs comments: “One of the biggest challenges small businesses face is trying to determine what support is relevant to them, as it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the information available. It can also become quite a juggling act trying to set up and run a business while seeking out this advice.

“Small businesses need to be objective and specific in the support they seek out, but then explore all options available. For example when we set up, we knew we’d struggle to obtain finance from the banks so looked in to alternatives. We also needed to build our local contacts, so focused on attending training and networking events.”

To find out more about Keele University Science and Business Park, visit


 Notes to editors:

• KUSBP has become a proven business location for local, national and international companies. The site is currently home to 42 businesses, including Siemens Wind Power Research & Development, Navman Wireless Vehicle Tracking Systems, Adecco Enterprise and GVA Acuity Ltd.

• The Nova Centre was launched in 2012 as part of KUSBP’s business growth programme and is currently home to seven start-ups, including Aerobact, DK Design, Language for Fun, Inspiring Imagery, CIF and Digital Delight.