London Tech Week is in full swing with events taking place across the capital as London continues to cement its place as one of the foremost hubs for innovation, particularly in the world of financial technology. At the heart of this fintech revolution are services with small businesses at their core, enabling them to compete effectively.

Last night we headed to the Institute of Mechanical Engineering for Enterprise Nation’s Thinking Big for Small Business event. The evening began with a panel discussion with small business owners who have benefited from easy card payment services, followed by a very special guest interview… Jack Dorsey (@jack), founder of Twitter and Square. Securing one of the world’s leading tech entrepreneurs and innovators was a major coup and the event did not disappoint.

We won’t recount the whole evening (you can watch it for yourself at the link below), but there were a few things that Jack spoke about that resonated, in particular why certain parts of the world seem to be more successful in fostering innovation than others and what businesses can do to grow.

With any innovation, any new product or idea comes the risk of failure. When asked why London and the UK seemed to be more innovative than a decade ago, Jack made a comparison with the culture of Silicon Valley when it comes to tolerating failure. He believes the Californian success comes from the fact that failure and mistakes are tolerated (and expected), that there is no black mark against an entrepreneur’s name disqualifying them from trying again and succeeding.

He suggested that this tolerance for error and mistake was now much more apparent in London (than, say, Paris) and that it makes a huge difference. The key thing, he pointed out, was that lessons needed to be learnt from those failures. If an entrepreneur can demonstrate they have learnt something valuable, that will hold a lot of sway with future investors. Ultimately in order to make progress we have to experiment; we have to fail and make mistakes and we have to learn.

Learning was a common theme of the evening. When asked about what it meant to be an entrepreneur, Jack suggested that the term is an abstraction and actually the focus needs to be on becoming a problem solver. He used his own example of creating successful businesses; realising that in order to develop a product he would need to employ people, which meant he would need to pay them, which meant he would need capital, which meant he would need to seek investment etc etc. Each of these points, intrinsically linked, posing a new challenge and a new problem; breaking down each problem and learning how to solve it was what brought success. Jack encouraged the audience to learn more about critical thinking and problem solving as a means to business success – that entrepreneurialism is in fact effective problem solving.

Bringing the subject back to small businesses, there was one point that stood out above the rest, that small businesses make up around half of a country’s economy and yet too often they fall down the list of government priorities. The challenge for Jack is keeping those small businesses in business. Too often they are denied credit and small loans by the big banks, and too often they are denied the ability to take card payments in an increasingly cashless economy.

Sighting the example of his mum’s café and her adamant desire that she wanted to remain a small business, he believes that tech offers an opportunity for small business to stay small but be global, doing much more with less.

Enterprise Nation has partnered with Square and Amazon to open Clicks and Mortar – high street retail spaces where multiple small online businesses can set up shop at affordable rents to showcase and sell their products. A total of 10 stores are due to open, with the first in Manchester opening last week. Whether it’s through FinTech tools that make running a business easier, or clever partnerships like Clicks and Mortar that help the UK’s innovators, entrepreneurs (and problem solvers!) grow and thrive, as a small business ourselves, it’s great to see smart thinking delivering really positive impacts for SMEs.