Supporting small businesses from the Outset

A few weeks ago, I accepted the ‘Best Overall Small Business Friendly Council’ award from the regional branch of the Federation of Small Business (FSB) on behalf of Bristol City Council. This week, I want to highlight more of the work being done to support small businesses, start-ups and entrepreneurs in Bristol.

Last week at Filwood Green Business Park I attended the South Bristol Business Breakfast. Discussion amongst the 25 or so businesses there centred on planned workspace developments in Hengrove, Filwood Broadway and Cater Road Business Park. We also spoke of a new Enterprise Support and Workspace Project, starting soon with funding from the European Union and West of England Combined Authority (WECA). I’m looking attend similar events in other parts of the city.

Yesterday was a Celebration of Entrepreneurship event, organised by Outset Bristol to mark ten years of their support to local businesses. Bristol City Council has worked closely with Outset over those ten years, helping people to set up new businesses and supporting existing businesses to grow.

Over its ten years, it has been clear that Outset has a real passion and commitment for promoting an enterprise culture across the city, advancing the social and geographic reach of support programmes.

Recent research by the Black South West Network (BSWN) set out to map the BAME business community in Bristol and to understand the barriers to growth and sustainability that it faces. The main findings of this research identified a range of barriers to BAME enterprise. Addressing these barriers, including access to finance, support services, bureaucracy and networking, will form part of actions for a growing and inclusive economy. The City Fund is also looking at supporting entrepreneurship in deprived communities.

The latest joint project between us and Outset, has helped over 30 new businesses to set up in just 18 months and has a focus on our city’s more disadvantaged neighbourhoods and people, promoting entrepreneurship as a contributor to inclusive growth. I met Ellie Webb, one of the entrepreneurs helped by Outset, founder of Caleño Drinks. Ellie spotted a market opportunity for non-alcoholic drinks and has now launched Caleño – a tropical non-alcoholic spirit. Supported by Outset since 2017, Ellie now employs people, has the support of a major drinks supplier and Sainsbury’s will be stocking Caleño next month.

A significant part of Bristol’s economic strength is its spirit of enterprise and the city is widely recognised for being a good place to start a business. This diversity is something we can trade off as part of our own offer to draw other business here. A large part of our successful pitch to Channel 4 was our authentic and vibrant enterprise ecosystem. Bristol also has a higher ‘business survival rate’ than any other major UK city. But we know we have to continue working to improve Bristol’s enterprise environment, especially in pursuit of inclusive growth, as well as supporting more established businesses to provide the decent jobs Bristolians deserve.

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