Passion and Barriers: The Start-up Paradox

Melissa Middleton

Our latest guest blog is brought to you by Melissa Middleton, Programme Manager at PNE Enterprise, PNE Group’s North East enterprise organisation, serving the region with access to start-up and business support and employability opportunities. For over ten years Melissa has worked with the next generation of entrepreneurs, following their journeys and listening as they shared their moments of celebration, challenge and hard work. She has received the NatWest National Unsung Hero Award and If We Can You Can’s Supporter of the Year Award.

Melissa Middleton, PNE Enterprise Manager, here to bring you breaking news, people in North East are setting up businesses and making a success of it!

Isn’t it great when you turn on the news on a morning and the headline story is a good one, so attention grabbing that you’re hooked on social media for the rest of the day getting updates? That’s how I feel everyday.

Everyday I meet, talk to or generally interact with many people, most either looking to start a business or already in business, and do you know what? Every single one of them has two things in common:


Passionate people devote their lives to a dream, immerse themselves in their work, always see the future as a positive, are willing to take risks but also accept consequences, they don’t back down, they inspire others and, here’s the big one, they overcome barriers.

I live by a rule that states ‘failure is inevitable but passion is vital’, and for those of you who have met me in person or have seen me speak at events I hope this is something that I share.

Did you know, for example, PNE Enterprise has helped 152 businesses to start-up in the North East through our work with the New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) scheme and that an average 67% of them are still trading? Did you also know that every one of these businesses was set up by an owner or owners who had a barrier in the way of them getting the business up and running? NEA provides support to clients who are claiming Jobseekers Allowance or certain Income Support, representing a group of people with fewer resources or financial security than many of us may have, so that success rate is a real achievement.

The number one reason for not setting up a business… “I don’t know how to”!

It’s true many people come up with business ideas that could be great but they just sit on them because they simply don’t know how to set up a business in the eyes of UK Law. Tax, websites, insurance, all these things (and a lot more) run through their minds, they think it’s too complicated and so don’t do it, but if they contacted an enterprise support organisation, attended a course or invested some time in research it would become less daunting.

Others don’t start-up because they get scared they will do something wrong.

Remember my life rule ‘failure is inevitable but passion is vital’, if something goes wrong or you fail at something so what? You will learn from this. Pick yourself up and don’t do it again. Importantly, know and accept you did something wrong and get help. If you can’t or won’t keep your books up-to-date, get an accountant. If you can’t make a decent looking website get a developer.

Most often, the things that stop people setting up a business are…

Over stretching. If you have an idea that needs £1m to get up and running and you have nothing then it’s not going to happen straight away. The solution is to start off on a smaller scale and get your foot in the entrepreneur door first.

Self-belief. If you believe you can do it then you will, but if you are doubting yourself all the time then step back and take a moment to think. Are you doubting yourself because really you don’t have the passion to do it?

All people need is a business idea they are passionate about and a place to get in touch when they have a question about business. When I turn on the news I want to see ‘I set up a business and am making a success of it!’

Explore the PNE Enterprise world on Facebook, Twitter and through our online chat at and together let’s let everyone know there is nothing stopping the next generation of entrepreneurs to make their ideas reality.

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