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Supporting young entrepreneurs through inflation unknowns

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 12 Dec 2022

Economic Summit: Entrepreneurs Forum is a membership organisation supporting businesses across the north-east of England. Its younger members are facing an economic environment they’ve never experienced before.

With a third of its members identifying as millennial, Entrepreneurs Forum is focusing on education and support around managing inflation. Those younger entrepreneurs have never had to manage their businesses during periods of high inflation, so they need extra support, explains Chief Executive Elaine Stroud.

“We’re teaching entrepreneurs how to manage their business during this period and, essentially, not to panic. It’s about healthy discussion.” 

Stroud joined regional panellists at the Economic Summit to discuss the current economic challenges and how businesses have adapted. As inflation increases, cash flow is a growing concern. “They don’t have the extra funds to give everyone pay rises or bonuses that reflect inflation, so they’re looking for alternative ways to engage staff and keep them motivated,” says Stroud. “They still want to be seen as an employer of choice.”

With many Entrepreneurs Forum members falling into the SME bracket, Stroud says another major concern is people: “Business owners are finding it difficult to hire enough staff to fill the vacancies, and also help them through the cost-of-living crisis.”

The forum uses surveys to connect with and gain insight from its members. Its latest business confidence survey revealed that 74% of members remain optimistic about 2023. Stroud says that while uncertainty is annoying for many entrepreneurs, they will always find a way through it. 

Members are encouraged to join regular drop-in sessions or be matched with a mentor who will guide, support and equip them with the knowledge and confidence to help their business thrive.

When it comes to government support, Stroud warns that without certainty and clear policy from leaders, entrepreneurs will become frustrated: “If the goalposts keep moving and changing, it becomes incredibly difficult to manoeuvre. For them to have confidence in the government, they need to know things won’t change every two weeks.”

Stroud fears that there will be slow progress and roadblocks along the way for UK business owners, particularly with supply chains across different industries.

However, Stroud predicts that 2023 will be a strong year for Entrepreneurs Forum, despite the current turmoil: “We’ve already seen enormous growth in the last year; people have joined our network so they don’t feel alone. In times of uncertainty, it’s reassuring for founders to come together.” 

While community spirit has allowed members to share the burden, Stroud urges the government to act fast to tackle uncertainty. For the forum, the focus is on continual support. It will host its biggest conference to date in a brand-new conference centre in Newcastle. The challenge, Stroud explains, will be getting corporate sponsorship. When there are financial limitations, the marketing budget for sponsorship is often cut first. “There’s no reason we can’t emulate the large-scale events we see overseas, but we need funding and for people to buy into the idea. That’s our target next year.”


A closer look at the impact of inflation on people, businesses, accountancy and the wider economy, bringing together the best expert opinion, data and analysis from ICAEW and its members.

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