Good news for older workers … and the economy

The government in the UK has finally called time on the Default Retirement Age saying workers nowadays are living healthier and longer lives. From October no firm will be able to retire employees compulsorily retire older employees. This decision has been long due. Few can disagree that older workers bring many positive experiences and benefits to any workforce, with lifeskills such as attitude, work ethic, teamwork ability, problem solving and commitment. Liz Field, CEO of the Financial Skills Partnership (FSP), says “the economy and society we live in are changing and demand greater flexibility. The skills, past experience, customer knowledge and soft skills provided by older workers are therefore essential in enhancing a changing market”.

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Now here’s a marketplace hero…

The world of business is full of amazing people working hard to be successful. Many overcome tough obstacles, from shortage of finance to illness, to make the dream of running their own business come true. One such person I met recently is Mandie Holgate, an Essex-based business coach, writer and speaker. She also runs a branch of the Business Womans’ Network, BWN, an organisation geared not only to help women exploit their entrepreneurial skills, but also to help educate them how to do the right things right in order to get the success they deserve. Eight years ago, mother of two Mandie fought back from her own severe depression to start the BWN to help other business women overcome their fears, comfort zones and grow their business. We connected because Mandie responded to the Wanobe.com call for the government to celebrate the contributions of small and medium sized enterprises to the British economy by backing a Small Business Owners Day. Mandie said the idea had captured her imagination. Why? Here’s what she said:“The Business Woman’s Network was created to give women an environment to learn new skills, to be known as the expert, to promote their business and get the results they want for their professional success. I am passionate about helping people appreciate their skills, their loves and their passions in life and bearing. The women and men managing SMEs (companies ranging in size from one person to 200 employees) do so much for us, creating most of the jobs in the private sector and contributing around £1,589 billion of private sector turnover.” Mandie says she agrees with Wanobe.com that small business people are the unsung heroes of the marketplace and that in these tough recessionary times their efforts should be acknowledged. Thanks Mandie, all of us at Wanobe.com are happy to welcome the Business Women’s Network to our effort to celebrate the efforts of smaller businesspeople.

The eurozone’s private sector slides back into contraction for the first time in two years

More bad economic data from Eurozone underlines pressures on business, says Wanobe founder Dave Noble

Europe’s debt crisis continues to bite hard causing the eurozone’s private sector to contract in September for the first time in two years.

A survey by a leading, global financial information services company, reveals the Eurozone’s fragile economic recovery is over with the private sector now contracting.

Markit’s purchasing managers’ index (PMI) of activity dropped to 49.1, from 51.5 last month. A reading below 50 indicates contraction.

And there is more bad news. Chris Williamson from Markit, the survey’s compiler, warns “things will deteriorate further in the coming months”.

According to the PMI survey factory output in the 17 countries using the euro contracted for the second month running.

Business activity in Germany, Europe’s largest economy, also grew at its weakest pace since July 2009.  “The recovery in Germany’s private sector economy is teetering on the brink, with both manufacturing and services growth close to stagnation,” Markit said.

Now available for 32 countries and key regions including the Eurozone, Purchasing Managers’ Index® (PMI®) surveys have become the most closely-watched business surveys in the world, favoured by central banks, financial markets and business decision makers for their ability to provide up-to-date, accurate and often unique monthly indicators of economic trends.

Downturn hits R&D investment

Some really bad news from a new study that shows almost one third of all British companies currently are spending nothing on research and development. IT consultancy firm Portal surveyed 500 companies and discovered that although a majority (52%) recognised that innovation is critical to future success, the economic downturn has led to a sharp decrease in business investment in hunting new ideas, services and products. Worryingly, almost 14% responded by admitting that they had cut ‘their investment in R&D enormously’.

The bad news for the economy is that slashing R&D is just not a rational business strategy, even if everyone has to find ways to save money. Let’s face it, if we are to survive this crisis that politicians are now dubbing to be the equivalent of ‘fighting a war’, small businesses – the real heroes of the marketplace thanks to their commitment to making things happen regardless of personal cost – must receive greater encouragement from government to focus more on R&D.

Government lending to small firms shrinks dramatically

A new report pointing to how the government’s small business lending scheme has declined by 40% in the last year underlines the problems being faced by the UK’s smaller business owners.

Carried out by  financial services company Syscap, the study found that the government made £433m available under the Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG) scheme over the 12 months to July 2011 compared to the £742m made available under the auspices of the scheme – which guarantees 75% of the value of a loan to businesses turning over £25m or less.

The researchers also discovered that from April to June 2011, only £93.1m was offered to small firms – little more than a third of the figure reached in the second quarter of 2009.

Syscap chief executive Philip White believes the scheme should be extended to include lease-based finance arrangements, which are not currently covered by its terms.

White added: “With economic performance in the past two quarters looking lacklustre and the ongoing eurozone crisis continuing to erode business confidence, an expansion of lending under the EFG scheme is urgently needed to help put the economy and job-creation firmly back on the growth track.”

The Syscap survey further underscores Wanobe’s call for the creation of a National Small Business Owners Day to celebrate the real heroes of the marketplace, Britain’s hard working small and mid sized business owners.

Time For A National Small Business Day…

Wanobe founder and CEO Dave Noble supports the idea of an annual national Small Business Day celebration in the UK and Europe

Most everyone agrees that small and mid sized businesses are the backbone of every economy throughout Europe with some 23 million small and medium sized enterprises (SME) representing around 99% of all business and employing 67% of the private sector workforce, according to the EU. Small businesses have to work hard for their living, long work hours and short holidays are the norm, especially in these tough economic times. Alas, the contributions of entrepreneurs are mostly ignored by the mass public and the media, all who tend to focus on the big hitting names. So here’s an idea we heard being discussed in the USA that we’re going to promote in Europe at Wanobe.com: let’s launch an official Small Business Day to be set aside by the government as a national holiday to honour small business owners, the real heroes of the marketplace. And let’s not just make it a UK happening, but one that rolls out across all of Europe. At Wanobe, we are going to give creating a national Small Business Day in as many countries as possible in Europe our best shot … and we’re interested in what you think. Please feed us your ideas below….

Mobile internet use now almost 50%

Wanobe founder and CEO Dave Noble

Britain’s internet users are going mobile in ever faster numbers. According to a new study by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), 45% of people surveyed said they are going online via mobile phone data connections, compared with 31% in 2010.

Perhaps unsurprisingly the most rapid growth was among younger people, where 71% of internet-connected 16 to 24-year-olds used mobiles. Domestic internet use is also increasing. According to the ONS, 77% of households now have access to a net connection, up 4% from the previous year. There are a few Luddites, however, with 23% of the population still offline, half of them saying they “didn’t need the internet.”

The ONS survey also found a dramatic rise in the use of wifi hotspots – a seven-fold increase in the past 12 months. All findings were based on a monthly survey of 1,800 randomly selected adults from across the UK.