Getting Britain trading again

Between 1998 and 2010, the majority of jobs in the UK were created by small firms, with smaller firms tripling their share of total employment, according to the not-for-profit lobbying group Forum of Private Business. It says these figures demonstrate that the Government needs to do much, much more to help small firms if it wants the private sector to lead the economic recovery.

The FPB has backed’s call for a Micro Business Owners Day and has been working hard to help the recovery with its campaign to Get Britain Trading.

The FPB says when it says help, they’re not talking handouts. What they’re calling for is a level playing field for small firms to be able to compete and a commonsense approach to tax administration and employment law.

The FPB launched the Get Britain Trading campaign in February this year, following calls from its members that small businesses were really struggling and no one seemed to be listening.
Its high laudable main aim is to get the Government to understand the massive contribution that small businesses make to the economy and to make it easier and more profitable for them to do business. The FPB believe this will not only benefit small firms, but in turn the economy and everyone who lives in Britain. applauds the FPB initiative, have your say below.

Call to place micro businesses in the spotlight following new late payment figures

Groups unite to recognise role of small employers in driving job creation and growth

 Calls for a special day to recognise the role played by small employers in the UK’s economy have intensified following new research showing that the smallest micro businesses are leading the way in tackling late payment.

The Forum of Private Business, and The Business Woman’s Network have joined forces to campaign for a ‘micro business day’ dedicated to recognising the economic importance of UK firms employing fewer than 10 staff.

The campaign has gathered pace following new research from Experian covering the third quarter of 2011 which shows that, while average late payment time for all UK firms went up by almost one day, to 26.13 days, employers with one or two staff were able to limit the rise to just half a day – the smallest increase recorded during the period.

However, other micro businesses taking part in the survey were less successful. Those with between three and five employees saw average payments beyond agreed terms increase by more than a day to 23.01 days – with only medium-sized firms and large businesses in the 51–100, 101–500 and 500-plus employee categories faring worse.

In addition, Firms with 6–10 staff experienced average late payments of slightly less than one day.

“The jobs that will drive economic growth are expected to be created in micro businesses so it is important that we place the political spotlight squarely on them and make sure it stays there – that is why we are calling for a micro business day to highlight the crucial role played by the UK’s smaller businesses,” said Jane Bennett, Head of Campaigns at the Forum, which provides the secretariat to the All-party Parliamentary Micro Business Group.

“It is time for the Government to stop talking micro and thinking macro and instead focus on the real issues of the smallest businesses.

“Late payment is a huge issue, particularly for small businesses. While it is pleasing that the smallest micro businesses seem to be leading the way in minimising the problem, others are less able to do so – perhaps because employment law bureaucracy means they simply have less time to chase outstanding payments.”

David Noble, Managing Director of the online business knowledge market said: “A major problem facing the UK’s micro businesses is how to chase money owed to them without upsetting a customer relationship – and possibly losing business as a result.

“It is dilemma micro businesses must solve every day and their creativity and perseverance in dealing with such issues, which enables them to survive and retain employees, is what makes them the real heroes in our marketplace.”

Mandie Holgate, of The Business Woman’ Network and a leading business coach, said: “Micro business owners aim to respect their suppliers and customers, appreciating the critical impact cash flow has on small businesses.

“They also aim to work in unison and aim to source locally, thereby supporting local economies and communities – a practice that could benefit from being copied on a larger scale, again showcasing the ways in which the micro businesses of the UK need to be turned to more and more as a resource for practical business solutions that work and will see us through these tough times.”

According to the Experian data, the North West of England is the worst region for late payment by far, with firms waiting an average of 36.72 days beyond their agreed terms.

Next is London (28.69 days), followed by Scotland (27.19 days), Yorkshire (26.65 days), the East of England (26.12 days), the East Midlands (25.72 days) and the West Midlands (25.50 days).

North East firms wait on average 24.42 days for payment beyond their agreed terms, followed by Wales (24.28 days), the South East (20.83 days), Northern Ireland (20.05) and the South West (18.18 days).

Sectors with the worst average payments made outside agreed terms are postal and telecommunications (46.62 days), leisure and hotels (35.91 days), food retailing (34.33 days).property (34.12 days) and textiles and clothing (30.50 days).

Industries with relatively better average late payment times include agriculture, forestry and fishing (12.27 days), oil (15.64 days), spirits, wine and tobacco (16.84 days), servicing and repairs (17.77 days) and insurance (19.78 days).

According to the payment body Bacs, small firms in the UK are owed approximately £24 billion in outstanding invoice payments.

The Forum is campaigning for better payment practices as part of its Get Britain Trading campaign. For more information call 0845 612 6266 or visit

Call to celebrate UK’s 4.5 million micro business owners with a special day gathers pace

Here’s some great news. Our call at for a national micro business owners day in the UK to celebrate the entrepreneurs running Britain’s 4.5 million small enterprises has won the backing of the Forum for Private Business and The Business Woman’s Network.

At a time when lack of jobs has led to record-high unemployment, the men and women running small businesses across the country are the unsung marketplace heroes, representing a huge source of dynamism for the UK’s battered economy.

Some 95% of all UK enterprises are micro enterprises. And they provide a third of all UK employment, so it is high time to acknowledge the role the UK’s entrepreneurial spirit is playing in driving forward the national economy.

The formula for a successful and thriving small business for the UK’s micro-enterprise owners has little to do with Dragons Den-like aspirations, it is about working longer hours than just nine to five, Monday to Friday to build a successful business and support families. Small business entrepreneurs should be seen as the real role models for the next generation, especially considering the numbers of under-25s who are obliged to take on work part-time because they simply cannot find fulltime jobs.

“Celebrating micro-business owners’ achievements is in line with the ‘Get Britain Trading’ initiative being run by the not-for-profit Forum of Private Business, which provides small business support, advice and help for firms across the UK,” Phil McCabe, the Forum’s media and PR manager, told Wanobe.

“The fight to get the UK’s economy back on its feet is being spearheaded by micro-business entrepreneurs, but many people do not understand what it is like to run a business, whether a fruit and veg shop or an outdoor pursuits centre. Launching a Micro Business Owners Day to celebrate the efforts and contributions of small business entrepreneurs is a great way to underline how bright ideas, creativity and commitment help generate new jobs and economic growth.”

Mandie Holgate, of the Business Woman’s Network and a leading business coach, says that the number of self-employed women now exceed 950,000 with some 15% of all businesses majority female owned. “Yet too many women are having millionaire ideals thrust down their throats when in actually fact they should be incredibly proud of the positive input they are creating to our economies and society with the self employed roles they take on.”

She told us that ‘running shops, cafes and hairdressing salons and working as designers, plumbers, accountants and coaches, female micro-business owners often have to balance their family lifestyle and responsibilities with putting in the hours to sustain a successful business. We believe wholeheartedly celebrating the real contributions women are making as small business owners to creating economic stability.’


Economic confidence among small firms falters

Not great news this week on the small business front in the UK with a survey from the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR) showing a dramatic fall in confidence in the economy among small firms.

The research targeted around 1,600 members of the Federation of Small Business in mid-September and revealed the largest increase in firms expecting to lay off staff since early 2010. A balance of 5.8% of small firms intend to lay off workers over the next three months, according to the CEBR survey.

Charles Davis, economist at CEBR, told the Daily Telegraph that: “Companies relying on discretionary expenditure are especially negative, with the leisure, sports and entertainment and hospitality sectors showing the largest drops in confidence of any”.

Optimism has also slumped in the manufacturing sector, with as many now concerned about the future as optimistic, down from a positive balance of 23 in the second quarter. Perhaps most provocative for the government was that almost 80pc of the businesses reported cost rises relating to utility bills, raw materials, labour and rents compared with a year ago, with a third reporting the increases were “significant”.

At Wanobe we believe this survey further highlights the need for the government to pay greater attention to the unsung heroes of the marketplace, the men and women running the UK’s 4.5 million or so micro businesses (employing fewer than ten people). Wanobe’s call for a special Micro Business Owners Day has already won the backing of The British Womans Network and the Forum of Private Business, which provides comprehensive business advice, protection and reassurance to small businesses.

Green is good … for business

Green business could be good, very good for you. That is the message that came from a recent Green Growth Bootcamp hosted by Kingston University.

The boot camp and brought together innovative firms including the Lightning Car Company, the Orpington-based developers of an electric supercar, and Cyclehoop, which recycles street furniture and transforms it into retrofitted cycle racks, stands and shelters.

London’s Mayor Boris Johnson told attendees that over the next four years he is also channelling over £50 million worth of funding, jointly from ESF, the Greater London Authority and the Skills Funding Agency, to support young people who are not in education, employment or training.

Mayor Johnson has put his faith in initiatives like the Green Growth Bootcamps because he believes harnessing London’s entrepreneurial spirit is essential in driving forward new, bright inventions, and encouraging young business people to pursue innovative and creative ideas.

He said: “It is these cutting edge enterprises that will not only generate new jobs and growth but will ensure London’s economy becomes even more competitive in the global market.”

The bootcamp series – an idea squarely supported by – is funded by leading banks, including the Royal Bank of Scotland group.

Home grown champions

At Wanobe we are championing the cause of the UK’s micro business owners (typically those 4.5 million firms with 10 employees or less) and pushing for the establishment of a Small Business Owners Day to celebrate their contributions to the national economy.

So it is very reassuring to read that Britain’s small businesses are cautiously optimistic about the year ahead despite the challenging economic climate, according to an important new report.

The annual Barclays Business Regional Impact Index, based on an in-depth study of around 1,000 owner-managers, combined with qualitative analysis by Kingston University’s Small Business Research Centre, says those firms that were surveyed indicate that they are seeking to grow, and to enhance their profitability. This suggests that these SMEs are optimistic and stepping up to the challenges of the recovery.

Encouragingly, owners of small businesses still retain a good sense of optimism and are looking to innovation to help boost their business in 2012. Over a third (37 per cent) of Britain small businesses looking to grow next year see innovation as the key driver, while 25 per cent of businesses are doing more with less next year. Only 15 per cent expect to take on new employees to help deliver growth.

Some other key data from the survey:

  • 66 per cent of small firms aim to expand in 2011 – an increase of 12 percentage points since 2010.
  • Owner-managers are turning to investment in product and service development and marketing to drive this growth.
  • Sales are expected to increase to other businesses and private clients, but public sector transactions are expected to fall or stagnate.
  • Web-based firms are expecting greater profit increase than ‘bricks and mortar’ businesses.
  • Mood was not unrelentingly positive: lack of demand, cash-flow problems and growing competition seen as biggest barriers to recovery

Small firm heroes helping to save UK economy

Small businesses are a crucial driver of the UK economy.  Working out of garages, High Street shops, offices on business campuses or at home, small business owners provide 59.8% of the new jobs created every year, represent 99.9% of all UK business and have an estimated collective turnover of £1,589 billion.  Below some interesting stats from the Forum of Private Business:
  • There are 4.8 million small businesses in the smallUK (up from 4 million in 2003)
  • 3.6 million businesses are sole proprietors
  • 1.3 million are companies of which 747,000 have employees
  • 444,000 are partnerships
  • 97 per cent of firms employ less than 20 people
  • 95 per cent employ less than 5 people
  • Over 500,000 people start up their own business every year
  • Small and medium-sized firms employ more than 59.8 per cent of the private sector workforce
  • 22.8 million people work in small and medium-sized firms
  • Small firms contribute more than 49 per cent of the UK turnover
  • 64 per cent of commercial innovations come from small firms
  • Wholesale, Retail and Repairs was the biggest employer at the start of 2009
  • The 563,000 enterprises in this sector employed 4,853,000 people (21.3 per cent of all UK private sector employment)
  • Small firms collect and pay Tax, NICs, VAT and other dues which help pay for public services
  • Around 1,580,000 of all UK enterprises are in London and the South-East

Credit Access For Small Firms To Be Eased By Government Funding

Good news for smaller firms at the end of a busy week comes in the shape of government plans to ease the access of small firms to credit by channeling investment directly into them.

The idea apparently is to deliver funding directly from HM Treasury – bypassing high street banks completely. However, details on how the scheme will operate are still at an early stage and further detail is expected to emerge on 29 November.

HM Treasury believes the programme could inject “billions” into small firms and would help shrink fears of a second credit crunch sparked by the euro zone debt crisis.

The plan was announced by Chancellor George Osborne at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, as part of a package of proposals aimed at helping struggling small businesses. Many will see the credit easing proposal as an acknowledgement by the Government that the UK’s banks have failed to lend to small firms. welcomes the proposals but we would like to see greater clarity about how they can be made to work. The last thing small firms need right now as they struggle to make ends meet in a downturn being called worse than that of the 1930s is more political ‘fluff’ – words without action are, frankly, meaningless. is also moving forward on following up on its call for a national Small Business Owners Day to be held to celebrate the immense contribution SMEs – and micro businesses in particular – make to the British economy.

Social media is good for smaller businesses

Social media is a great tool for smaller businesses to engage with new and existing customers, yet new research shows that almost 50 per cent of B2B businesses are not measuring return on investment when using social media.

PricewaterhouseCooper’s new paper ‘Uncovering B2B social media: Value, innovation and engagement’ reveals that, although B2B companies are investing financially in social media, they are not backing this up with clear strategies to their staff on the use of social media or by investing in the people resources necessary to make it work effectively. Fewer than 12 per cent of organisations surveyed have full time social media teams in place, according to an article on

Sean Mahdi, director in PwC’s digital transformation practice says, ‘Social media is changing the way people work, shop, receive service and relate to one another. Businesses also need to change the way they engage with customers, whose trust is increasingly invested in their peers, rather than in the brands with which they interact.

‘The results of our survey demonstrate that, although B2B is investing in social media, they appear to be doing so with limited strategies that don’t fully exploit social media in the way that B2C is doing.’

The report examines the ways social media can be used not only as a tool to drive sales, but also as an opportunity to create loyalty to a brand, demonstrate transparency and responsibility in all aspects of the businesses operations and to use it as a way to participate in a two way dialogue as opposed to the traditional one way communication model.

Mahdi adds, ‘As embracing social media represents a significant change to the way in which many organisations interact with their customers, a social media strategy is essential. Becoming a social business requires insight on many fronts: about your customers, about what your brand stands for; and about the additional value that you can provide your customers through social media engagement.’