What is technology and why is it important?

Here at Consilium we receive many enquiries from entrepreneurs across the world who either want to start a business in the UK; require additional funding, or just require business consultancy to assist their growth.

For those wishing to obtain their Tier 1 visa we receive enquiries from right across all segments. We have developed a sector agnostic approach. It is however, interesting to note that over 80% of the enquiries received in 2021 were tech enabled businesses.   

Why is Technology so important?

Technology though can mean different things to different people. In this blog, we seek to highlight what it means in the broader sense, and how it has developed at a rate never seen before.

Owing to the applications of technology, our standard of living has gone up. Our needs are met with greater ease. There have been advancements in agriculture, due to which food produce has increased. Every industry has been boosted. Businesses have grown, creating more employment opportunities. The computer and internet technologies are universal and during the past two years never has tech proved a vital part of everyday life.

Technology has touched every aspect of life, making it easier, better and different. It has changed living. The world has become a smaller place because of its advancement, and even replaced the need to meet in person.

How technology has helped business

Businesses, small and large, need technology to deliver their products and services. It is technology that gives companies the opportunity to grow and expand at a fast pace.  With the digital age and the scope to communicate faster and easier across continents to other parts of the world (from the comfort of your living room), the possibilities for new thriving businesses are immense.

In the middle of every piece of technology is automation. It automates the most complex of processes, be it in communication, medicine, education, food, general business tasks or anything else.

With automation comes efficiency and speed. They save human effort and time to a great extent and make life easy and comfortable. Nothing else has changed living the way technology has. And that’s exactly why technology is so important today and will always be.

Support for businesses

There are many government initiatives to support the drive for technology, whether this be through funding, grants or specific programmes. These are typically specific to a market sector such as EIP Wales which is providing funding to 46 projects from across Wales. They are trialling innovative techniques and technologies at a practical level within the farming and forestry businesses.

The Welsh Government also has a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) delivery plan for Wales. They have recognised the importance of these key areas in education for children and their future.

There are many different types of technology, and FinTech is an emerging example which is where technology and innovation aims to compete with traditional financial methods in the delivery of financial services. It is an emerging industry that uses technology to improve activities in finance. The use of smartphones for mobile banking, investing, borrowing services, and cryptocurrency are examples of technologies aiming to make financial services more accessible to the general public.

A recent example of using technology for competitive advantage is from Mazuma, a South Wales based accounting firm. They have stunned the small business market by launching their own bookkeeping software as part of their subscription service. Naming the software MazApp, the software has all the great features of rivals like Xero, but with one advantage – there are accountants behind it that do all of the data entry and analysis for you.

How to get started

The primary goal of using technology within business is to solve a business problem.

Ideally, start with a low-risk project that has clear benefits. Once you have done this successfully you can become more ambitious as your expertise and support grows.

Whilst technologies such as AI, sensors, assistive technology, robotics, SaaS platforms etc seem futuristic, it is already making a difference to Welsh businesses and helping them make more use of technology.

Conclusion

The tech industry is quite unique compared to other industries. Some of the largest names in tech originated in their founders’ garages.  Microsoft, Google, Apple and Amazon and countless others began in garages.

Some of the largest companies therefore have started small, and now they are worth billions of pounds.

Using technology can provide competitive advantage; a faster pace of growth; and unique business opportunities for future entrepreneurs starting and building a business.

Consilium is an official coaching partner with Winning Pitch on the Welsh Government Accelerated Growth Programme, providing trusted advice to ambitious start-ups through to successful scale-up companies. If you would like to find out more, please contact us.

It is Impossible to Prepare for your UK Venture – Myth 3

Getting all relevant documents together for any application is an onerous task; leave alone an extensive one such as the one for the UK Home Office. The last thing on the mind before an entrepreneur applies to the Home Office is to make preparations for the venture in the UK. The entrepreneur is busy preparing the application along with his immigration lawyers, taking help from his bankers and accountants. In all this melee of paperwork, there is a nagging worry at the back of his mind that he needs to put serious thought to how he will conduct his future business in the UK.

There are two major factors at play here: one is the knowledge and awareness of rules and laws of the land and second is the lack of a trusted network of professionals. Most of us have, over the years, built a trusted network of people around us in our city/ country. For say, if in need of a lawyer or accountant or tax consultant, we may know the exact person to go to or may know someone who can point us in the right direction. But when we are out of our comfort zone and in a foreign land, it can be bit tricky to establish trust. Further, we may not have the luxury of time to do so and not have the years of interaction to create our circle of known people.

The Consilium Mentoring Programme (CMP) does just that – create knowledge and awareness of the business ecosystem in the UK and also introduces a good trusted network of professionals. The CMP Incubation programme endeavours to create a trusted network of people to go to. Over a period of twelve weeks, the entrepreneur goes through a series of workshops. The workshops are fully online and enable participants to attend from their own country and at their own convenient time. The workshops are designed to provide know how into the business environment in the UK. Some of the general areas covered are human resources, pensions, relevant legal requirements for businesses, accounting, taxation, tax breaks and some bespoke areas depending on the entrepreneurs’ business are around IT, blockchain, AI and robotics etc. Further, if the innovation is established, possible help can be sought from Universities and other bodies that can support the entrepreneur to develop the idea and even create the MVP. The sessions are one on one and the member can make each session as bespoke as he wishes. The mentors are well experienced in their area of work and offer customized solutions and advice to the participant.

The application preparation time is roughly around three months and at the same time the entrepreneur can go though their CMP incubation workshops to prepare themselves and are better planned for the setting up task ahead once they are in the UK.

The CMP incubation has contributed to the success of not only international entrepreneurs but also startups based in the UK looking to brush up their business knowledge and awareness before they start the business.

The Tier 1 Innovator Visa Decision Process is Long Winded – Myth 2

Setting up business is a daunting task in itself, let alone setting up a new venture in foreign lands. Add to this mix, the application process – the planning, investment amount, the volume of documentation, filling endless forms for the relevant visa category and, as in any government interaction, the long wait times for the decision.

The two major issues are the investment amounts and the waiting times for the decision. For the purpose of this article we address only the decision time lines of the popular programmes. The investment amounts for the various programmes have not been considered, though it definitely is a major factor to form a decision for applying to a certain country.

Waiting times is a major hurdle for someone planning to set up business overseas. The longer the decision time, the greater the uncertainty in the planning. The applicant might be running a business in his home country. One of the main drags of uncertainty is whether the applicant should invest in the current domestic business to the level one would wish to or wait for the decision to come before deciding how he/she would deal with their domestic business and the new overseas business. Alternatively, the applicant might be reviewing whether to wrap up his domestic business if he/ she gets a positive decision. Similar cliffhanger awaits applicants who may be employed and heading key departments and businesses for their employers. In either case, it basically comes down to putting a hold on life itself for that wait period of time. Almost all major decisions get deferred to post decision.

There are a number of countries that have business/investment related immigration visa programmes. The leading English-speaking ones being the US, Canada and Australia, apart from the UK. Each has its own rules that govern the visa category. The US calls it the EB-5 Immigrant Investor programme and for Canada it is the Investor visa from Quebec province. Though the province itself is French speaking, the popularity is high given that Canada is a great destination. The whole process is time consuming and takes a few years to complete. Similarly with the US EB5, the process may run over few years. Singapore and New Zealand are better in terms of a faster-processing time between nine to twelve months and three to four months respectively.

The UK Home Office has an amazing turnaround time, for both the investor and innovator visa, of two to four weeks generally. Once an applicant is ready with their documentation and application, they have to wait at most a month to find out whether they can proceed with their plans to set up business in the UK. This quick turnaround time takes the sting out of the whole decision uncertainty and the applicant can move on with life one way or the other.

Hereby we have busted another myth. Thanks for your patience and we will keep posting more myth breaking articles to make your planning process easier.

Innovation is Technology – Myth 1

As an Authorised Endorsing Body, we talk with entrepreneurs on a daily basis and hear some exciting ideas and business plans. The conversation invariably also touches migration related issues and some misconceptions around the particular UK Home Office migration programme. Over a period of time we realised that we were repeatedly encountering some common myths about the innovator programme. We thought of addressing some of these myths through this blog series. So here is myth number one –

Myth 1 – Innovation is Technology

“To meet the UK Innovator Visa Innovation criteria, it’s all about Technology” is the resounding remark we hear repeatedly from potential entrepreneurs who wish to migrate and set-up and invest in their business in the UK.

This first myth – around which this blog is focused – is that for someone to qualify the Innovator category, they must come up with another Facebook/Amazon kind of Earth- shaking marvellous technology idea. It would be great if it happens, but who can crystal ball gaze which idea will go on to become a unicorn? Right in the beginning we decided that, as an endorsing body, we would be sector agnostic and technology would not be the only word in our dictionary when it comes to judging businesses for innovation.

With extensive experience in the SME corporate finance space, at Consilium we know that to be innovative does not only mean technology as an end goal – rather, technology can also be an enabler for a new business process or may become the power behind a traditional business idea by opening new markets and supply chains. We keenly look at processes and products where innovation is the outcome of the application of ideas to bring down cost, beat competition, or bring in efficiencies that give industry wide advantages and expand the market itself.

To give a flavour of what we are saying, highlighted are a couple of cases where technology, even though important, is not solely what innovation is based on –

  • A recent business idea that we are discussing with an entrepreneur, is an electronic media product where the innovation originates from the fact that it is targeted towards a particular community diaspora in the UK; a pioneering effort that practically faces no competition and lends an immense scale up opportunity.
  • Another product is a unique DIY security kit that waters down complicated IoT (Internet of Things) issues and caters perfectly to the needs of small households. More than the tech, it is the experience of the entrepreneur that brings in the innovation in this case.

Look out for more Myth busting blogs that are to follow in this series. We look forward to your views. Do write to us on our email endorsingbody@consiliumconsulting.co.uk.

About the Author – Kapil Bali is the Commercial Director at Consilium