I’m off to Number 10: what shall I say on YOUR behalf?


10 Downing Street sign

I’m going to Number 10 Downing Street next week, for a conversation with the Prime Minister’s special advisor on small business and enterprise, Daniel Korski.

Daniel is new to the job, after a career in EU and foreign politics. He’s keen to learn from small businesses what our concerns are, and what we need from government. Together with entrepreneur Emma Jones and fellow business owners from Enterprise Nation, I’ll be sharing my experience and concerns about growing a business today.

One of the issues that I’ll be raising is the disproportionate emphasis on launching a new business, rather than supporting existing businesses to grow. Just imagine, if every single-person business in the UK took on an extra pair of hands, whether full or part-time, what a boost to the economy that would provide.

Of course, not every small business owner wants to expand. For many, it’s a lifestyle choice to keep their business small. However, small doesn’t equate to successful, and successful doesn’t have to mean small, or big, or anything size-wise at all. But successful rarely equates to ‘doing everything yourself’. I meet few business owners who enjoy doing everything alone, and many who’d love to get help, but don’t really know how, or dare, to do it.

So let’s put it this way: if every small business owner focused their energy and time on doing what they’re really good at, and made enough extra money that way to buy in help to do everything else, that would make a significance difference to employment and the economy.

That’s why I’d love to see the government putting more energy and support into not just encouraging people to launch businesses, but in helping them to bring in other people, whether employees, contractors or freelancers. As any small business owner knows, it’s not just about the legal stuff. It’s about the confidence to make your business more than just you, the know-how to find and recruit the right people, the mindset to trust not too much and not too little, the techniques to delegate, the energy to inspire and lead others, and the willingness to become a leader and not just a doer.

Because the rewards are tremendous, for individuals, families, societies and our economy.

I’d love to know your concerns about small business and what the government should be doing. What would make the biggest difference to your business? What would you like to see in government policy? Please do let me know in the comments below, or by contacting me on the Time Wizard form here.

 

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4 Responses to I’m off to Number 10: what shall I say on YOUR behalf?

  1. Bob Williamson July 29, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

    I agree, there certainly seems to be a greater an emphasis on starting new businesses and not enough support in making them successful, let alone simply surviving the early growth years.

    There’s so much to learn initially, especially if, like me, you came from the ‘comfortable’ existence of working in a large corporate. I tried to use all the available support networks available at the time (10 years ago) such as Business Link but gave up as I found that the so called experts they sent out knew very little about the real world outside of what they had read about – most information was either wrong or out of date.

    The two areas I had most issues with at the beginning were funding and premises. Funding is some a huge minefield but I agree with Heather Townsend above that businesses would really benefit from discounted / deferred rent in the formative years – preferably being part of a larger building where new small business could ‘incubate’ with others, all learning and sharing their experiences together. I’m not sure if Business Link still exists and if so, in what format. But expanding on Heather’s idea, maybe the regional / city / town teams could be moved into much larger (and long-term vacant) buildings along with a number of empty individual offices that new businesses could work in for a set incubation period. In addition to having access to a selection of in-house ‘experts’, each new business could also be provided with such things as free wifi, a communal reception desk / phone answering service, meeting rooms, etc.

    It would be wonderful if someone within the government (or even outside!) could develop an online decision tree whereby new business owners could work their through all the things they need to consider – possibly before they even launch their business. Along the way could be many references and links to resources they might not of even considered necessary.

    Hope that’s useful.

    • Joanna Pieters July 30, 2013 at 9:35 am #

      Thanks very much for your thoughts, Bob. Advice and premises seem to be two such big issues for young companies – I’ve had quite a bit of feedback on both.

  2. Heather Townsend July 26, 2013 at 5:06 pm #

    My thoughts are as follows:
    1) You are right, there is a gap in support for established small businesses who don’t have ambitious growth plans. You can either get support if you are a start-up, or if you qualify for the Business growth accelerator scheme, where you have to show 20% year-on-year growth and be increasing revenue across the 3-5 years by growing (if I remember rightly) by £500k+
    2) Childcare is another area where we could get more assistance from the government. Getting salary self-sacrifice for only £243 per month (from my husband who is employed) doesn’t really go anywhere to mitigate my childcare costs.
    3) empty office/retail space. There are huge amounts of empty office and retail shop fronts. Perhaps the government could think about ways of giving tax breaks to small businesses to occupy these premises?

    • Joanna Pieters July 26, 2013 at 7:54 pm #

      Thanks very much for your comments, Heather. I agree totally about the growth accelerator limitation issue (great idea *if* you fit). The childcare issue I find particularly frustrating, with 2 years to go until self-employed get any support at all, and then only for children under 5. It’s hard to see how only the ’employed’ getting support is justifiable.
      I really like your idea about premises – what a great use of space it could be.

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