News and blog

Cobweb publishes occasional opinion articles and papers which review, question and challenge different topics relating to business start up and micro-enterprise, business support policy and entrepreneurship best practice.

Practitioners, policymakers and business owners are welcome to comment and share their own views or experiences.

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Some facts about micro-business and enterprise support

November 27th, 2015 / 16 comments

The publication of the latest annual figures in the Business Population Survey has reminded us of an article we published in EnterQuest a few years ago which looked into the make-up and characteristics of the UK’s small and micro-business sector….

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Why we need more enterprise, not more entrepreneurs and gurus

September 25th, 2015 / 5 comments

Over the last few years in the UK, there has been a bewildering obsession and overuse of the term ‘entrepreneur’, which has been universally attached to anyone who is self-employed or running their own business…

Can entrepreneurship be taught in the classroom?

May 29th, 2015 / 10 comments

One particular debate which has become a perennial cause of divided opinion among enterprise professionals relates to whether entrepreneurship can or cannot be taught in a classroom setting. In the light of these differences in opinion the answer to the question is clearly yes, no, and maybe…

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The misunderstood and misrepresented needs of the self-employed

February 27th, 2015 / 4 comments

There has been a considerable amount of commentary, statistics and dialogue reported about the rise in self-employment levels across the UK over the last five years. At first glance, these top line figures seem impressive and have been heralded by ministers, think tanks and start-up groups as a healthy surge in enterprise and entrepreneurial activity which is fuelling the UK’s return to economic growth…

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The disappearing benefits of self employment

October 23rd, 2014 / 6 comments

The Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) has called on the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to review the levels of social security contributions and entitlements of both self-employed and employed workers. The SSAC is an independent statutory body that provides mandatory scrutiny of most of the proposed regulations that underpin the social welfare system…

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What micro-business owners don't need

September 20th, 2013 / 14 comments

It’s almost two years since the Coalition Government withdrew all central funding for face-to-face support for business start ups and the small/micro-business sector. Since then, the Coalition and the Department for Business (BIS) have made various attempts to put something else in place and have either backed or provided token levels of funding for several initiatives to compensate for the micro-business support vacuum…

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The Monty Python guide to 'Great Business' support

July 25th, 2013 / 10 comments

The business support landscape has changed dramatically in the last two years, with a shift away from subsidised local provision of face-to-face support and training for start ups and micro-business owners, to a mixture of celebrity-led initiatives alongside the Department for Business’ (BIS’) attempts at providing ‘support’ on an online basis…

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How to be a successful small business failure

April 4th, 2013 / 10 comments

The role that the small and micro-business sector plays and contributes to the health of the economy in the UK should never be understated. In 2012, over 4.5 million small/micro-business proprietors accounted for 47% of private sector employment and 35% of total private sector turnover…

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Start up ignorance and the enterprise graveyard

August 30th, 2012 / 12 comments

At the beginning of this year we published a couple of articles highlighting the dangers and ignorance related to the Department for Business’ (BIS) policy of blanket encouragement of unchecked business start ups without appropriate business support…

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Is there an Insolvent Business In You?

August 16th, 2012 / 16 comments

EnterQuest is considering an approach to the Department for Business (BIS) with a proposal to launch a new business start up initiative…but with a twist. We are proposing to BIS that they should launch a new campaign entitled There’s an Insolvency In Everyone – What’s the Insolvency In You?…

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Why you can't start up in business in three hours

July 12th, 2012 / 2 comments

Conventional thinking (and often advice) given to prospective new start ups is to find a business idea (or create a product) first and then work out who you are going to sell it to later. But those dumbstruck new start ups who are encouraged to pursue the first idea, product or ‘opportunity’ that they see rarely prepare themselves properly for running a business venture. And they rarely survive for very long…

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The wheels on the enterprise bus

May 31st, 2012 / 4 comments

The last week has seen the latest announcements relating to the publicly funded business support that is now available across the country. The first was the announcement of the Growth Accelerator initiative which claims it will support 26,000 firms with high-growth potential. This was quickly followed by the launch of the Start Up Loans scheme for young people and Lord Young’s ‘Make Business Your Business’ report on enterprise…

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Young persons' start up loans – sublime or sub-prime business lending?

May 4th, 2012 / 1 comment

Going into debt when starting up, in the majority of cases, increases the likelihood of early failure. In young people these figures will almost certainly be higher, due to their lack of experience and more crucially lack of financial acumen. Providing a loan to a business that otherwise would not get off the ground is, in essence, funding a business model that starts out requiring a sticking plaster or crutch…

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Professionals question the thinking behind 'Business In You'

February 6th, 2012 / 4 comments

The Government’s latest web-based initiative to support and encourage start ups was launched by David Cameron last week. The Business In You website has been set up by the Department for Business (BIS) to highlight support for start-ups and growing businesses and encourage entrepreneurial spirit in 2012…

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The enterprise graveyard – Part 2

January 12th, 2012 / 8 comments

Our lead article last week presented a rather controversial argument which raised questions about 2012 being held up by Government and others as the ‘year for enterprise’, and whether it makes sense to encourage more start ups, especially now there is so little genuine local business support available…

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2012 and the enterprise graveyard

January 5th, 2012 / 13 comments

Is it right to encourage the start up of more hairdressers, shops and freelancers to add to the struggling hairdressers, shops and freelancers who are already scraping the barrel in terms of finding demand from customers with spare disposable income for their already widely available products and services – especially following the near wipeout of practical, face-to-face support?…