THE “growth mindset” of new and expanding businesses will help Wiltshire through the recession, a top boss at NatWest says.

Businesses born in the Covid crisis are set to join those that are already adapting and thriving, according to Gordon Merrylees, managing director of entrepreneurship for NatWest and RBS.

The bank’s Entrepreneur Accelerator scheme has helped more than 3,000 businesses since it was taken on under the NatWest brand in 2018.

This week is Global Entrepreneurship Week and Mr Merrylees said he was working with a number of “serial entrepreneurs” who were adapting and finding new opportunities.

“There are certain customers and businesses that we come across that are thriving during this pandemic and during lockdown,” he said.

“I deal with entrepreneurs and they always find a way of being relevant, looking at the business model, pivoting, understanding new markets, entering new markets and always seem to find this opportunity and find that innovation.

“I’m mindful that I’m dealing with a breed of people that have got a growth mindset like that.

"They’re always looking forward to try a different strategy and approach and have got no issue getting out of their comfort zone.

“It’s not about perfection for them – it’s about learning and iterating and developing. They take the view that mistakes happen, problems happen – in this case, pandemics happen.

“The economy has bounced back 18 per cent in the last few months. We’re all expecting a surge of start-ups.”

He said the bank had been “really supportive” with lending, handling 6,500 calls about top-ups to the government-backed Bounce Bank Loans on the first day of applications last week.

The bank runs business support across the country, with 12 “accelerator hubs” that offer co-working spaces one-to-one coaching, networking and workshops.

Much of the activity has moved online, with 900 digital events attracting 39,749 guests.

The bank is supporting many people setting up their first business, often using redundancy money from their most recent job, said Mr Merrylees.

Its Business Builders advice sessions have attracted 11,482 people.

“A lot of those start-ups will come from the recent economy. They’ve had 8-9 months at home and have got the benefits that brings.

"They’ve had a side hustle and think ‘I can take that forward. I’m going to take the money now’,” he added.

He said the bank was able to offer businesses support through access to community networks and through useful content.

His own team of 27 staff had provided 7,000 hours of advice during the pandemic.

Other initiatives include a Climate Accelerator programme for carbon neutral and carbon negative businesses, which currently has 282 business. There is also an invitation-only network for businesses with high growth potential.

The bank is running a programme to develop transferable entrepreneurial skills among 16-18 year-olds in state schools.

It was endorsed by the ScaleUp Institute last year and is hoping to receive the same endorsement this year.

“This isn’t about us. It’s about our customers. If you’re customer-led and you’ve got a purpose around why you exist and you exist completely to support those customers and help those businesses communities, family businesses, thrive and the ecosystem, then it’s right to be absolutely focused on the customer,” he added.