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The Entrepreneurial Exchange

Tony's Tycoons

Entrepreneurs who launched ventures in 1997 give their verdict on the Blair years

AS Tony Blair was assembling his first Cabinet, 23-year-old Natasha Marshall was signing the loan agreements to help set up her own business.

Ten years on and Marshall's Glasgow business is supplying designer fabrics and wallcoverings to Heals and Liberty's and upmarket hotels including Malmaison and Hotel Du Vin.

The economic environment under the Blair era has been a benign one for Marshall.

"The strong economy and its impact on consumer spending has definitely helped us. There has been a huge increase in people spending on going out over the decade which has benefited us as we deal with hotels, restaurants and bars."

But she also says the political framework is not the critical factor for business success.

"As an entrepreneur you have to live within the climate the government has created and not get too negative about areas which could be improved," said Marshall, who has served as an associate board member of the Entrepreneurial Exchange.

"If you want to succeed you just have to keep on pushing yourself and bear in mind the tax system means you have to make quite a lot before a business is profitable and worthwhile."

The designer, who graduated from Glasgow School of Art, backed with a loan from the Prince's Scottish Youth Business Trust and a bursary from the Scottish Arts Council, says more could have been done to lessen the burden of regulation and argues more support for business in the early years is needed.

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