After years as an Accountant I now take pleasure in making a difference and Channel:Lincolnshire is my hobby and my work a brilliant mix.
Website URL: http://www.channellincolnshire.co.uk
Lincoln City Council is asking tenants to change their rent payments from standing order to direct debit, this gives them more control but shouldn’t adversely affect anyone changing over.
Lincoln Orienteering Group. (LOG)
Where to start! It’s a couple of years or more since I met Paul Murgatoryd near the Cathedral for the group’s annual run around town, quite literally. Well they also run round the countryside too and not just in good weather.
Business confidence at the big end!
The largest number of business entities are small, yet collectively they provide a major part of the UK’s employment.
By and large they do not influence the UK’s export sector, but they do provide support to the big boys who do and they are also responsible for a great deal of the UK’s imports as consumers and for raw materials.
What small businesses don’t have is time or the focus to make a difference. You may ask how I arrive at this conclusion?
The starting point was a press release from the FSB (the Federation of Small Businesses) which extrapolated the views of 11,367 responses by members to a survey (less than 6% of its membership) and used this to add weight to its standard campaigns.
I do not use these figures to denigrate the FSB, its campaign or its membership or even the small business sector. When you’re in it up to your neck, the usual state for most small businesses, raising enthusiasm to respond to a questionnaire is not top of your priorities.
Rather I would ask, how much power does the small business sector have and how can it be exercised. And here again I understand that the FSB feels that it needs to use its position to lobby parliament for changes beneficial to the sector, but rather what is the purchasing power of the sector and how can this muscle be used to steer the economy.
Over the years talking to businessmen I have heard praise for other nations that put their own economy first when making strategic and financial decisions.
So what’s the biggest problem for small businesses, they are often under resourced, both in terms of funding but also lacking trained management/support.
All too often small business has to rely on banks for funding for working capital or assets. Despite the absurdly patronising TV adverts showing us a caring banks and bankers they have only one focus and being small individually you will always be vulnerable. Good bank managers are a dying breed, now they purely respond to head office – when it’s time to lend then the vaults are open and when head office says time’s are tight then foreclosing is better than uncertainty then that’s what we do too.
Access to good quality advisors is expensive, very expansive and all too often you don’t know whether they are good until after the event, when you already have their invoice(s).
So is there an answer.
Skiing off piste for a moment, Central Government would find it easy to stimulate the small business sector in a cost neutral way if it had the will so to do. The immediately positive effect of increased VAT/NI/PAYE take plus the multiplier effect of money in the economy and longer term business tax revenue should offset the short term costs. It worked for Maggie and her government who single mindedly gave the business sector a sense of self belief in the 1980s.
Small businesses have worked collectively in buying groups for years, what’s to stop the FSB from helping its members to use their financial muscle? For instance many businesses have pension investments – how might the massive power here be used to make the banks work for small businesses? What about the idea of a new Bank for Small Businesses funded by members regionally without the baggage of the inaccessible over paid bank managers who don’t know you or your business?
On the matter of professional advisors where do you go? Possibly down the big supermarket route – set up your own multi-disciplined business not just as advisors of last resort, employ good people on reasonable salaries keeping fees down and ensuring a high standard of service.
Certainly small business would be as well taking advice down the pub as asking the publically funded do-gooders who all too often have a little more to recommend them than a cheery attitude.