Ironically, the most successful entrepreneurs in the world are also those people who have learned how to deal with failure: Bill Gates watched his first company crash and burn. The late Steve Jobs’ first stint at Apple ended with him biting the proverbial dust (he formed a new company and eventually bought Apple back). Our own favourite entrepreneur, Sir Richard Branson’s first ever business (a nationwide magazine for students) was a glorious failure. Even his mega-brand, Virgin has suffered failure (remember Virgin drinks, Virgin brides, Virgin cars or Virgin clothing anyone? No – Me neither)
Dynamic individuals know never to give up.
In Britain, we are proud of our longstanding commitment to business ideals and enjoy a legacy of encouraging trade and commerce but recently, talented entrepreneurs from abroad have voiced their increasingly frustration with bureaucratic red tape which is making it difficult for them to launch their business ideas in the UK. Those entrepreneurs who have attempted to move to the UK to set up and implement their business plans have found it the hardest. The entrepreneur route is designed for those who have access to £50,000 or £200,000 and wish to use those funds to set up/run a business in the UK. Their biggest hurdle has been successfully negotiating the ‘genuine entrepreneur’ test.
Figures released in 2014 show that nearly 50 percent of applicants for a Tier One (Entrepreneur) Visa fail the ‘genuine entrepreneur’ test. The genuine entrepreneur test was introduced in 2013 to ensure that individuals applying in this category were genuine and their intentions to set up and run a business in Britain were sincere.
If you want to launch a business venture in the UK and gain entry via the entrepreneur route, you will need to know how to pass the genuine entrepreneur test, the outcome of which is judged by public officials who are not in business themselves.
Our top five tips for passing the genuine entrepreneur test are as follows:
1. Know your business and its place in the UK market
The Home Office wants to be assured that you have the knowledge, means, intention and experience required to own and operate a successful business in the UK. You must prove to the interviewing officer that you have researched the UK market in your business sector and can detail your experience. Ensure you submit a comprehensive CV detailing your academic qualifications, work experience and past entrepreneurial successes. Be prepared to discuss your experience of your chosen business sector with your interviewing officer in fine detail. You will be expected to answer a lot of questions not just about the general business area but also about the specifics of your chosen enterprise.
2. Prove the credibility of your investment funds
UK money-laundering regulations are very strict. To pass the genuine entrepreneur test you will need to prove that your funds are derived from a legal and credible source. If you are using your own money, you must provide evidence that the funds will be available to you until such time as you need to invest them in the business. It is not good enough to just say where the money comes from, you must evidence it.
3. Create a comprehensive business plan
Your business plan is a vital document. And if you want to pass the genuine entrepreneur test, it must be clear, concise and convincing.
As of 6 April 2015, all applications for a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Visa must be submitted with a business plan. These plans are taken apart and ruthlessly scrutinised by the Home Office, so don’t just think that you can cobble something together over a couple of evenings in front of the television. The Home Office also uses software to check whether your submitted business plan has been copied from the Internet, so if you were thinking of getting some online help, forget that idea as well.
The best chance for success is to obtain professional advice on what the Home Office is looking for in a good business plan, conduct thorough market research and make your financial forecasts as accurate as possible.
4. Collate all relevant documentation
When it comes to collating documentation to support your application, your motto should be, “if in doubt, don’t leave it out”.
Make sure you include evidence of:
• Your academic qualifications
• Any relevant work experience
• Referees and references
• Your business plan
• Details of your financial forecasts and what those predictions are based on
• Evidence of your investment funds and proof that you can support yourself during your stay
• Your passport
• Proof of your knowledge of English
Your supporting documents should be consistent with your business plan and overall application to enhance your credibility. You will be expected to know this document inside out at the interview so make sure you are well prepared.
No matter how well prepared you are, it helps to engage someone with knowledge and experience of these applications look over your application with you before you make it.
5. Have an independent third party review your applications prior to sending it to the Home Office
Legal and financial professionals can spot flaws and weaknesses in an application for an Entrepreneur Visa from a mile away. The money you invest in having your application, business plan and supporting documents checked will be well spent if it means your application is one of only 50 % that make it past the Home Office review.
Professional advisors will guide you on any extra experience your need to gain or further research that is required to ensure your application is credible and genuine. So make you pick the right one. I would advise using a trained, qualified and experienced lawyer and not an accredited representative with little or no legal training. Remember, as in business, you will normally get exactly what you pay for and it seems silly to jeopardise an entire business project by failing to go to the right person for the right advice.
Planning and Preparation
Abraham Lincoln once quipped that if he had six hours to cut down a tree, he would spend four sharpening his axe. Planning and preparation are the secrets to passing the genuine entrepreneur test.
Ensure you take note of our top five tips and seek professional advice, and you will be well on your way to launching your business successfully in the UK market.
Saracens Solicitors is a multi-service law firm based in London’s West End. Our long-established immigration team can advise on all aspects of immigration law. To find out more, please phone our London office on 020 3588 3500 to make an appointment with one of our Solicitors.