With the UK in political and financial upheaval, British startups cannot be blamed for urging the government to make the entrepreneurial landscape easier to navigate. Fortunately, given Theresa May’s latest appointment to her cabinet, British entrepreneurs may be in luck: Margot James, MP for Stourbridge, has been designated minister for small business, consumer protection and corporate social responsibility.
Commenting on her appointment, James said: “I am delighted to be joining the ministerial team at [the department for business, energy and industrial strategy] and will do all I can to support businesses and employees in my new role.”
As the co-founder of the Shire Health Group, a public relations and clinical trials organisation, James certainly knows a thing or two about the challenges entrepreneurs face. And, in light of this, the UK startup scene now hopes the new minster will use her experience to improve the climate for British SMEs. “I’m personally fed up of career politicians who go into politics having never really worked in the business world,” said Sam Parton, co-founder of OpenPlay, the sport facility-booking startup. “Margot James should add a breath of fresh air to this role as she fundamentally understands how hard it is to create and grow a business and what barriers need addressing.”
One such hurdle entrepreneurs must tackle is the question of how to fund their startups. “I would urge the minister to look closely at improving access to funding for small businesses,” said Goncalo de Vasconcelos, CEO and co-founder of SyndicateRoom, the equity crowdfunding platform. “Whether it is tax incentives for investors or simpler regulation for businesses looking for investment, I hope early-stage financing is at the top of Margot James’ agenda.”
But funding isn’t the only concern for SMEs, with the trimming of red tape ranking high on many entrepreneur’s priorities. “I also hope that she’ll do all she can to simplify business administration and remove some of the paperwork that is a legacy of the past,” said Murray Harkin, founder of The Lyndon Agency, the PR firm.
While it remains to be seen which items she’ll tick off the entrepreneurial wish list, the startup sector is evidently optimistic about having one of its own at the helm in Westminster.