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Everyday Entrepreneurs


The All-Party Parliamentary Small Shops Group has published the final report of its Everyday Entrepreneurs Inquiry. The report can be accessed here.

The Everyday Entrepreneurs Inquiry looked into the future of Britain's everyday entrepreneurs, who create jobs and growth and build communities. The Inquiry considered how to equip the next generation of entrepreneurs with the skills to build successful businesses; how to maximise the positive impact that entrepreneurs have on local communities; and how Government should remove policy barriers to entrepreneurial activity and investment.


The final report of the Everyday Entrepreneurs Inquiry makes the following recommendations:

Removing Barriers to Growth and Investment

  • Create a new ‘Entrepreneurs Test' that forms part of the Government's impact assessment proposals for all new business regulations;
  • Access to finance remains a significant barrier to growth for entrepreneurs, with banks not fully engaging with business plans and often only providing loans with stringent conditions and high costs, with entrepreneurs often having to risk their homes as security for loans;
  • Business rates, especially for retailers, are a clear barrier to growth with stakeholders calling for reform of the rating system. The government should focus on incentivising investment and tailored reliefs for high street stores;
  • Entrepreneurs are struggling to navigate an expansive range of regulations, including employment and pension law. Government needs to provide clear and concise guidance on all new regulations.

Skills for the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs

  • Central Government funding is needed for a new ‘mentorship' programme to encourage local entrepreneurs into schools to inspire and inform young people about entrepreneurial career paths;
  • Financial education should form part of every child's education to equip them with a basic understanding of budgeting, profit and loss so that young people have the confidence to manage their money well, both now and in the future.
How Entrepreneurs Create Better Communities
  • Local authorities should actively consider how they can incentivise businesses that take an active role in their community by offering Discretionary Rate Relief for businesses that meet community needs such as serving isolated communities and playing an active part in community life;
  • The Government's new Growth Hubs programme should provide advice for business about increasing community engagement, developing social responsibility plans and enhancing collaboration with local voluntary groups and charities;
  • Entrepreneurs have a positive impact on local communities, with the public viewing post offices, convenience stores and pharmacies as having the most positive impact in their local area.

Participants of the Everyday Entrepreneurs Inquiry

The following is a list of those who provided oral evidence to the Inquiry and contributed to shaping this report as part of a series of evidence sessions within the Houses of Parliament.

Martin Christian-Kent

Executive director at People 1st, the skills and workforce development charity for employers in the hospitality, tourism, leisure, travel, passenger transport and retail industries. Over 20 years' experience in labour market research and skills policy; detailed knowledge of the labour market across the service sector with policy and research experience.


Robert Ashton

Social entrepreneur, author and campaigner who founded social business, Swarm Apprenticeships, which seeks to blend an enterprise qualification with business support to connect ‘bright NEET' youngsters with small business owners.



Dr Jutta Tobias

Dr Tobias' current research portfolio focuses on the link between mindfulness and performance, geared in particular to establish a scientific evidence base for mindfulness interventions in organisations. She works with groups to help improve their decision-making, overcome obstacles in managing change and organisational learning, and generate sustainable performance. Dr Tobias has been quoted in The Sunday Times and was interviewed on BBC World Service about mindfulness and stress in the workplace.



Professor Adrian Blackledge

Professor Blackledge's research has detailed ethnographic investigations of small shops in London, Cardiff, and Birmingham. Over many months of observations into small shops, his research team has collected hundreds of hours of audio-recordings, video-recordings, social media communications, field notes, photographs, interviews, and documents. Together this material offers substantial evidence of the ways in which entrepreneurs make their communities better places to live and work, or are constrained in their efforts to do so.


Kishor Patel

Director at Houghton Trading Ltd, Kishor has forty years' retail experience. An entrepreneur with a degree in accounting, he opted to start his own business rather than pursue accountancy. His first taste of convenience retailing came while he was studying and took a part-time job in the local Londis store in Colindale. He seized the opportunity to buy an independent grocery store that came up for sale in Houghton Regis. This led to operating six Nisa Local and Post Office stores until 2014.


Nic Bottomley

Nic Bottomley is a former lawyer, and now proud owner of an independent book shop in Bath. In both 2008 and 2011, his business won the Bookseller's Award for Independent Bookshop of the Year. 


James Lowman

James was appointed ACS Chief Executive in November 2006, since when he has grown the organisation which now represents 33,500 local shops. He advises members on impending legislation and other issues, supporting this work with a strong evidence base through a research programme. James is a director for Community Alcohol Partnerships, and also sits on the boards of the leading proof of age scheme CitizenCard, the Proof of Age Standards Scheme (PASS) and the Association of Business Crime Partnerships.


Michael Weedon

Michael Weedon is deputy Chief Executive and Communications Director at the British Independent Retailers Association, which represents approximately 7,500 members across the UK from single retail outlets to small chains, dealers, suppliers, manufacturers and distributors. He views Britain as a "true nation of shopkeepers".



James Bielby

James Bielby is the chief executive of the Federation of Wholesale Distributors (FWD). FWD represents food and drink wholesalers serving retailers, caterers and SMEs, to government, suppliers, customers and the outside world. Previously, he was editor of convenience title Retail Express. He is passionate about the wholesale sector, and facing challenges on both the retail and foodservice sides.



Michael Mercieca

Michael Mercieca was appointed Chief Executive of Young Enterprise in April 2012. Young Enterprise is the UK's leading enterprise and financial education charity. They provide young people from all backgrounds the opportunity to find their full potential through practical enterprise programmes.



Julie Deane OBE

Julie Deane OBE is leading the Government's Self-Employment Review. She has established a successful business selling satchels and other leather goods. Since investing just £600 to start up her business, the company is now a handmade-in-Britain phenomenon employing more than 100 people and selling to over 120 countries. She is a supporter of the ‘Business Is GREAT' campaign which aims to build confidence among small businesses to encourage them to grow.


For more information on the Everyday Entrepreneurs Inquiry, please contact Steve Dowling via steve.dowling@acs.org.uk.