small business news

Government Calls for Market-led Small Business Lending

The Government has called for lending to small firms to be more market-led and less state-regulated, in a review announced by Business Secretary Vince Cable. The proposals have been outlined in a government green paper, Financing a Private Sector Recovery, and call for market-led solutions to small business funding needs. The paper includes proposals to improve access to bank lending for small firms, as well as encouraging alternatives to traditional lending, such as private equity, venture capital and business angel investment. It suggests that banks and private finance institutions should offer a more diverse, competitive range of funding options, with the Government just bridging the gaps. “I’ve heard the problems businesses are facing in getting bank loans up and down the country... »

Experts Call for Reform of UK’s Skills System to Boost Economy

Experts this week warned that the UK’s economy – currently the sixth largest in the world – is set to slide down the international rankings unless its skills and employment systems are fundamentally reformed and improved. The report, Ambition 2020, published this week by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, says that an extra 20 million people need to improve their skills if the UK is to achieve its ambition of being in the top eight countries in the world for skills, jobs and productivity by 2020. It also calls for an increase in the number of apprenticeships available for young people and adults; for prospective students to be given more and better information about the range of courses and qualifications on offer; and for more encouragement for businesses to create highly-skille... »

Carbon Trust Helps Fast-track Green Startups

Clean technology startups can access free support to help them to turn their business ideas into commercial prototypes and attract investment, following the launch of the Carbon Trust Entrepreneurs Fast Track scheme. The scheme is aimed at firms that can demonstrate outstanding future carbon-saving and high-growth potential. Small UK-based firms, university startups and corporate spin-outs are all eligible to apply. The Fast Track scheme was developed after a consultation with 400 early-stage clean tech businesses revealed that “proof of concept” and prototype building testing were the two most valuable types of support needed for their ideas to become commercial. The consultation also highlighted the need for these firms to protect their Intellectual Property and access seed or venture ca... »

SME Apprenticeships Scheme Wins Top Award

A Canterbury-based florist received a top accolade for its Apprenticeship scheme at last week’s Apprenticeship Awards, organised by the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS).  The award recognises the firm’s success in using apprentices to grow its business, providing a shining example of how SMEs can benefit from Apprenticeship programmes. The company, which employs two apprentices, believes Apprenticeships are the best way of recruiting high-quality employees and credits its own Apprenticeship programme with the significant growth it continues to enjoy. The passion of the apprentices Contemporary Flowers works with is one of the main reasons the business has been able to move from tiny, ‘shed-like’ premises to a full-size shop. A sister outlet in the area is now in the offing and additio... »

Confident SMEs Maintain Marketing Spend

Small businesses are more likely to maintain their marketing spend over the next 12 months than their larger counterparts, research from the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) has revealed. According to the CIM’s annual Marketing Trends Survey of more than 800 businesses of all sizes between April and May this year, small businesses showed the highest likelihood of boosting marketing strategies by increasing their marketing staff. In fact, 15% said they would hire additional marketers compared to just 3% of large companies. The research found that small firms were also more positive about their prospects for the forthcoming year than larger firms, despite lingering doubts over the health of the economy. More than half of the SMEs questioned said they expected the recovery to gain groun... »

Fifth of Firms Start Up for less than £1,000

A fifth of small-business owners started their firm with less than £1,000, new research from a telecommunications firm has highlighted. The XLN Telecom study of 500 entrepreneurs, which looked at how business owners funded their operation, also found that the majority (64 per cent) had drawn money from their personal savings to get up and running. Bank loans were the next most popular route (27 per cent), while one in fifteen had been helped by friends and family. Just four per cent had received support from investors at the start-up stage. “Many of the most successful businesses are founded on minimal start-up capital saved or borrowed from friends and family,” said XLN Telecom founder, Christian Nellemann. “The popularity of shows such as Dragons’ Den highlights t... »

Budget will Boost Small Business Growth, say Business Groups

Business groups have welcomed HM Chancellor George Osborne’s Emergency Budget plans to cut small companies’ tax and exempt many start-ups from National Insurance Contributions (NICs), saying it will encourage enterprise growth. In his inaugural Budget speech, the Chancellor outlined plans to: reduce the tax rate for small firms from 21% to 20% next year introduce a tax break of up to £5,000 on employers NICs for each of the first ten employees at new businesses outside the South East and eastern England create a Regional Growth Fund to provide finance to encourage innovation. However, Mr Osborne also announced an increase in the main rate of VAT from 17.5% to 20% from January 2011. A boost for struggling businesses The National Federation of Enterprise Agencies’ chi... »

Social Enterprises Misunderstood

Nearly half the adult population is unsure what a social enterprise is, despite this type of business being the fastest-growing in the UK economy, new research has found. The poll of 2,000 adults commissioned by O2 and Social Enterprise magazine revealed that many people were confused about how social enterprises actually worked, with 56% believing they are always funded through grants and donations, rather than trading like normal ‘for-profit’ businesses as many social enterprises do.  Similarly, the poll revealed confusion over what constituted a social enterprise. While 56% correctly identified the Big Issue as a social enterprise, 49% said Shelter belonged to the sector when it is a traditional charity. Business Link defines a social enterprise as a business with prima... »

Is Confidence Returning to Small Businesses?

The UK’s recovery from recession is proving slow but steady going for small business owners, according to a survey conducted by ICM. More than a quarter (27%) of UK small businesses say they are more confident now about their business than they were this time last year. Furthermore, 64% of small businesses said they would be investing in their business this year, taking the brakes off an investment freeze that last year saw only 38% invest in any area of their business. And growth is clearly back on the agenda for many. 29% of small businesses plan to invest in new customer acquisition this year, compared to just 12% last year. 26% said they would be investing in new product or service offerings, up from 18% last year. Steve Holford, Marketing Director of Rise, who commissioned ICM t... »

Average Worker Hungover Three Times a Month

The average British employee goes to work with a hangover three times a month, research by charity Drinkaware has revealed. The poll of more than 1,000 employees also found that of those who have had hangovers at work, 17% confessed that it had a negative impact on their performance, and seven% have had to leave early because they felt too ill to carry on. Drinkaware chief executive, Chris Sorek, said employers needed to set out a clear alcohol policy for staff so that people understood what was acceptable ― ideally before the World Cup starts on 11 June, as staff may be tempted to overindulge during the tournament.  “An international sporting event like the World Cup will inevitably capture the attention of the nation and is a great time for people to come together, but h... »

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