29th May, 2015 No Comments
Following on from the election frenzy this month we have heard the Queen’s speech containing a record number of bills, outlining the incoming Conservative Government’s plans and priorities for the next 5 years. The 26 bill package was described by Prime Minister David Cameron as a “programme for working people” and the creation of full employment was at the heart of the plan. It does appear to contain several business-friendly policies, but a key question is ‘what does this really mean for the new and growing businesses that are the focus of the work of the Cavendish Consortium?’
Business reaction indicates that the Queen’s Speech was perceived as steady and relatively safe with no real surprises. Some of the businesses that I have spoken to are taking time out to get to grips with what it means, seeing this as the calm before the storm with much still to be debated, particularly around the in/out EU referendum. It is very positive to see the commitment to enterprise and jobs but there is a sense that we need to see the actions that follow on from the plans.
John Longworth, Director General of the British Chamber of Commerce commenting on the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill said:
“Simplifying life for small or growing businesses should be an objective shared across all political parties. There are many measures in the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill that will receive support if they work in practice – including faster company registration, improvements to public sector payment, and measures to support business cash flow.”
The Government is committed to setting up a small business conciliation service to resolve business to business disputes, particularly over late payment which is a key issue for many small businesses. The cutting of ‘red tape’ and unnecessary bureaucracy is certainly welcomed by SMEs who are the lifeblood of our economy. New legislation is planned to help achieve full employment and we are committed to playing our part in realising this through starting and growing more businesses. It is to be hoped that emerging policies result in a practical, accessible ecosystem to encourage rather than inhibit new business growth.
Other areas of particular interest to small businesses are:
– No VAT, income tax or national insurance contribution rises in the next five years for those working over 30 hours per week on the national minimum wage
– An increase in the provision of free childcare by 2017
– EU referendum before the end of 2017
– An emphasis on the importance of building a Northern Powerhouse
– Delayed plans to scrap the Human Rights Act
– A continuation of the building of the High Speed 2 railway
As always the devil will be in the detail and in the practical roll out of the Government plans. I have been struck however by the general sense of optimism among businesses that I have spoken to. There is a sense of increased opportunity and a focus on building a strong future.
I’ll finish with a quote from John Allan, National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses who said:
“The Small Business Bill, announced in the Queen’s Speech, reflects the growing recognition of the role small businesses have to play in driving forward the economy and the need to do all we can to support them in that effort.”
I echo his sentiment, we must all play our part in supporting that effort and in driving forward the Government’s aspiration to “cement the UK’s position in Europe as the best place to start and grow a business.”
Written by Carole White, CEO, TEDCO Business Support
11th May, 2015 No Comments
Now that the dust is settling on an exciting election night and result it perhaps time to step back and look at what happened politically and how the future may be constructed..
The Labour meltdown was unexpected but should we have foreseen it? The simple truism whatever side of the political divide you are on is that wealth creation needs to come before wealth distribution. If you do not have it then you cannot give it away. To create wealth you need to raise aspiration and arguments which most people left behind at the school debating society are not going to convince a high enough proportion of the electorate to vote for them. Undoubtedly there is abuse of the system and this should be stamped out with the force of the state but most people are more adept at spending money than government and thus it is only right that people wish to retain more of their hard earned income. The facts are that the wealthiest contribute most to the national tax take but there is a limit to their contribution and good government is about amending limits to extract the greatest take not the politics of envy which usually results in a lower amount of tax collected. Until Labour understand this they will not be in a position to govern again.
The LibDem collapse was perhaps easier to foretell. History shows that minority partners in a coalition fare worse at elections. Perhaps this is unfair but the electorate thinks that it may as well vote for the larger party if they are going to be in power. Whilst the collapse was almost total I believe that history will be kind to the LibDems. They were right to enter coalition in 2010 and performed outstandingly in government. This allowed the UK to pull its way back from the brink and set us on a steady course for the future. The individuals concerned should have the gratitude of the nation albeit not the votes. The way forward is perhaps harder to foretell but we have not seen the end of the LibDems. Their strength grew from being the protest party and this mantle was lost to UKIP. However the next ten years may well see the party regaining a respectable amount of seats.
UKIP have suddenly come out in favour of electoral reform – which the electorate rejected a few years ago. There was nothing about their opposition pre-election so it looks more like a convenient bandwagon passing onto which they have jumped. UKIP undoubtedly fed into the public consciousness and became the protest party but failing to break through could be the end of the party. Assuming that the Conservatives hold an in/out referendum on Europe this negates the raison d’etre of the UKIP argument. Many of their policies were toxic and unpalatable to the electoral majority. This detracted from some reasonable arguments which they had on aspects such as monies paid to Scotland and the need for some fundamental reform of public institutions. I believe that they will gain some headlines from time to time but I cannot see them making any kind of breakthrough.
The SNP had an outstanding campaign and successfully corralled the protest vote in Scotland. However their influence under a Conservative majority is limited and whilst there will be much rhetoric I doubt that it will be sustained. Unfortunately for the SNP such success means that they can only go one way in five years and that is to loose seats – the benefactors will be whichever party works hard in Scotland to convince the majority of the electorate who did not vote SNP that their vision is the best for the future. The SNP will undoubtedly entertain us and will probably be the sternest opposition over the next twelve months as others lick their wounds. If David Cameron gives the Scots the powers that they wish under “devolution max” then he can negate their influence as the realities of governing weigh heavily on the passionate rhetoric. Giving the Scots the ability to raise taxes to meet their spending desires will rapidly turn the electorate against them.
It was a great result for the Conservative voters. A working majority allows them to show their true credentials. The big question is will they deliver? The first six months should be the time to push through all major pledges whilst the goodwill amongst the party is there and the troops can be easily whipped. It is bound to reflect poorly in opinion polls as difficult decisions are made but if it is done well then there is plenty of time for the impact to be shown before a new election. If we see a complacent attitude on reform then it could mean that the party will be out of government for some time after 2020. The prime objective should be wealth creation. The more that is generated means that more is available to spend on the country’s needs. There is so much written about government “cuts” but personally I fail to see how spending more than you earn is seen to be a good thing. If you borrow you have to pay it back and thus it is entirely right to borrow for long term projects such as infrastructure but irresponsible to borrow for day to day expenditure.
The next five years could be the most economically important in living memory. We will either be a strong economy spending on the things that are important to us such as Health and Education or a financial basket case which would call for real austerity and not the modest “cuts” seen to date. The path will not be smooth but as any entrepreneur will tell you – have a vision, articulate it as a mission, formulate your strategy and then compile a business plan which enables you to deliver. Stick to that for five years without deviation and the future will be bright – whoever is in power.
Written by Kevin Horne, CEO, Nwes
1st May, 2015 No Comments
During the start-up process entrepreneurs have to overcome many factors to get their business up and running. However, one of the biggest, and most important challenges of starting a business happens once it is trading – attracting and retaining customers, and growing profit.
Marketing to attract customers sounds simple but this crucial factor, which often gets overlooked by more pressing problems, can make or break your business. If people don’t know about your business, how can they become customers? And if you don’t have any customers, then how is your business going to make money? And if it isn’t making money, how are you going to keep your business going? These issues are not unique to start-ups; existing businesses must have an adaptive marketing strategy too!
In order to enter the marketplace, and stay there successfully alongside the competition, SMEs have to get their name known – and for the right reasons. However, many SMEs overlook marketing and cut it from their budgets because they don’t feel it’s a necessity – but it is! Marketing is vital for attracting and keeping your customers. It is important to make sure you are positioning yourself in the right way and targeting the right companies in the right way.
Newer businesses have to work harder to grow within the market, being careful to not get bypassed by other well-known companies that already have a loyal customer base. Building a solid, positive, reputation is the key to this.
Top marketing tips for start-ups and young businesses:
– Get networking – it is a great way to meet fellow entrepreneurs and potential customers but don’t be tempted to try to sell to everyone you meet. Concentrate on making friends and connections – sales will come later if you offer something that can help them.
– Online AND offline – the world is now dominated by the Internet but do not ignore other options. Put yourself in your clients’ shoes and list all of the places that they are likely to look if they needed your service.
– Word of mouth should feature on the list. It is not just about who you know – who do they know?
– Social Media – join LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google+. At very least these will allow you to add a link to your but if treated carefully, they can be incredibly powerful FREE marketing tools.
Contribution from Enterprise First