Linked inTwitter

Halcyon's 52:52:52 campaign on this site and on Twitter will start in 2021. It will help you address 52 issues with 52 responses over 52 weeks.

Part consultancy, part thinktank, part social enterprise, Halcyon helps you prepare for and respond to personal, organisational and societal change.

A Mundane Comedy is Halcyon's new book. Extracts will appear on this site and across social media from the beginning of 2021. Please get in touch with any questions about the book or related Halcyon services.

Halcyon monitors change for more than 150 key elements of life.

What's Changing? - Middle Market

Middle Market


Please see below selected recent middle market-related change, covering entrepreneurship, family businesses and startups.


See also:


January 2021

  • The Financial Times reported that more than 250,000 small businesses are at risk of collapse without further financial help from the government, according to a survey by the sector’s trade body that reveals the continuing damage on companies from almost a year under coronavirus restrictions. Just under 5 per cent of 1,400 companies surveyed for the Federation of Small Businesses quarterly index said they would shut their doors for good this year, a record level in the report’s 10-year history and more than double the comparable figure a year ago. Some 5.9m small companies operate across the UK, according to the government.
  • The Baltic states have the best ecosystem for start-ups to thrive, according to a global ranking by venture capital firm Index Ventures. Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania were deemed the most “start-up friendly” because of their favourable stock option policies, which allows young companies to attract talent and compete with larger firms offering higher pay. France, the UK, Portugal and Poland also made the top 10. European start-ups raised a record $41bn (€37.9bn) of venture capital in 2020.
  • Many startups are building their own globe-spanning networks of nanosatellites, enabling a new kind of everywhere, all-the-time connectivity for people, animals and assets on Earth. Scientists who track the health of penguins in Antarctica are managing their cameras from thousands of miles away - via tiny satellites orbiting above our heads. Energy companies are exploring using the same technology for monitoring hard-to-reach wind farms; logistics companies for tracking shipping containers; and agribusiness companies for minding cattle. It even helped National Geographic track a discarded plastic bottle from Bangladesh to the Indian Ocean, noted the Wall Street Journal.


December 2020


November 2020

  • In venture capital, the strength of a start-up’s founder and leadership team is considered the most important factor when deciding whether or not to back it. A study, however, cast doubt on how much the founder actually matters - at least in the early stages. In a survey of 470 start-up founders and CEOs, Harvard Business School professor Tom Eisenmann found that personal attributes including age, education, and personality traits had no significant connection to the valuations of early-stage companies.This is in opposition to previous research and the common thinking among venture capitalists, who often frame their investment strategy as backing the jockey over the horse.
  • Quartz reported that hundreds of startup founders in Silicon Valley are reorganising their lives around the idea of “decarbonise everything.” A small but passionate group of founders and engineers are leaving companies like Tesla, or skipping the tech giants entirely, to take aim at what they call the biggest opportunity of a generation: climate tech.


October 2020


September 2020

  • new one-stop-shop climate action platform aims to help small and medium-sized enterprises curb carbon emissions, build business resilience, and gain competitive advantage. Ericsson, IKEA, Telia, BT Group, and Unilever have committed to support the new SME Climate Hub through a "1.5°C Supply Chain Leaders" group.
  • Alex Lazarow, a Bay Area-based venture capitalist, academic, and author. In his book Out-Innovate, Lazarow argues that this refresh is already underway, largely in emerging markets. There are 480 startup hubs worldwide, he points out, and 10% of unicorns are located outside Silicon Valley. In the era of coronavirus-fuelled uncertainty, he says startups should not strive to be like Silicon Valley unicorns, but instead like camels: capitalising on opportunity while focusing on sustainability and long-term growth - i.e. surviving droughts and pandemics from the get-go.
  • Venture capital firms are collaborating to keep Nigerian startups alive. Abuja, Nigeria-based early-stage fund, Ventures Platform, is collaborating with New York impact investor Acumen and LoftyInc, a Lagos-based investment firm to create a startup relief program to disburse emergency grants of up to $20,000 to early, high-growth stage startups that may require cash support. The non-equity grants could be a key lifeline for young startups during the pandemic, noted Quartz.
  • Quartz reported on emerging entrepreneurial hotspots: 
  • As African countries began instituting lockdown measures in response to local coronavirus outbreaks, the pervasive fear across tech ecosystems was a sharp drop in dealmaking. Yet, in defiance of economic uncertainty as a result of the pandemic, African startups are increasingly notching multi-million dollar exits, Quartz explained.


January 2019

  • A global survey from ACCA highlighted international trade concerns among SMEs worldwide, and how they can maximise growth prospects.
  • KPMG US launched KPMG Spark, a technology-enabled solution for tax accounting for small and mid-sized businesses. The tool enables clients to comply with domestic tax reform legislation by using innovative technology, intelligent automation, and personalised services. 
  • The solution will provide accounting assistance to clients from the pre-revenue stage to upward of US$50 million annually. It leverages the technology platform KPMG acquired from Bookly. The solution responds to new regulations required under 2017’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) and expands Bookly’s previous offering, which solely provided cash-basis accounting assistance to small companies.
  • In The Top 20 Reasons Startups Fail, CB Insights broke down the top 20 reasons for failure by analysing 101 startup failure post-mortems.
  • In The Top 100 Venture Capitalists, CB Insights worked with The New York Times to develop a data-driven ranking of the world's best venture capital partners.
  • Meanwhile, in Game Changing Startups 2019, CB Insights highlighted the year's emerging trends to watch and high-momentum startups with world-changing potential.
  • In 2018, funding to Venture Capital (VC)-backed US companies hit a new high of $99.5B, despite a slump in deals. Deals last year fell to 5,536, down 5% from 2017, though later-stage mega-deals (worth $100M+) pushed annual funding up 30%, to hit its highest level since 2000. Read more in the CBI-PwC MoneyTree Report.
  • However, asking who needs venture capital anyway, Quartz noted that startups, increasingly seeing VC money as a “dangerous” path to an accelerated demise, are seeking alternate methods of funding.
  • Fintech is giving small businesses access to finance. Cut off from finance by big lenders, financial technology platforms are coming to the rescue for cash-starved small businesses, noted Raconteur.
  • Robotic process automation (RPA) software is streamlining workplace functions at large banks, including data entry, document review, transaction processing, and more. CB Insights mapped out 90+ startups using AI and machine learning to automate banking operations, from fraud detection to customer identity verification.


December 2018

  • In Start-Ups Aren't Cool Anymore, The Atlantic argued that a lack of personal savings, competition from abroad, and the threat of another economic downturn make it harder for millennials to thrive as entrepreneurs. Quartz added that millennials, saddled with debt and scarred by the financial crisis, have become jaded with the romance of entrepreneurship.
  • The state of the European startup ecosystem was released by Atomico. European VC funding hit $23bn in 2018, up from $5bn in 2012 (globally VC funding was $177bn in 2017, so Europe is still underweight on a GDP basis). Nearly half of women entrepreneurs say they experienced discrimination, and 93% of funds went to all-male teams. Founders are sanguine about the role of government and of the GDPR, claimed Exponential VIew.
  • The rise of consumer AI startups examined how Chinese apps like TikTok & Soul are a new breed of consumer AI product. "TikTok, for example, never presents a list of recommendations to the user, and never asks the user to explicitly express intent - the platform infers and decides entirely what the user should watch" while Soul, a dating app, uses "AI [to help] restore trust in anonymous chats".
  • The past decade or so has seen the dramatic growth of startup ecosystems around the world, from Shanghai and Beijing, to Mumbai and Bangalore, to London, Berlin, Stockholm, Toronto and Tel Aviv. A number of U.S. cities continue to dominate the global landscape, including the San Francisco Bay Area, New York, Boston, and Los Angeles, but the rest of the world is gaining ground rapidly, noted Harvard Business Review.
  • Of the 18 $1B+ acquisitions of tech startups in the last three years, a majority were by non-tech corporates like Walmart, Unilever, Allstate, and Roche, according to CB Insights.
  • Further reading:


November 2018


October 2018


September 2018


August 2018


July 2018


June 2018


May 2018

  • The number of new unicorns per quarter decreased over the past year, but Q417 and Q118 produced 16 each — more than most quarters since 2013. And the numbers are even higher when companies that raised funding through cryptoassets or token financing are included. CB Insights looked at why the crypto unicorn should — or should not — be included in the coveted $1B valuation club.