30 Oct 2012 02:00pm

Michael Fallon: helping small businesses thrive

Small and medium-sized businesses are the lifeblood of our economy, comprising 99.9% of all UK firms and accounting for more than half of private sector employment. Yet many businesses don’t seek or receive the essential guidance and support that could help make them more successful

Now, more than ever, we must enable as many UK-based businesses as possible to start, grow, and hire more people. The economic growth we need will only come from the private sector, so it is vital that our small and medium-sized businesses are able to succeed and pave the way for a stronger economy.

As minister for business and enterprise, helping UK businesses to thrive is one of my top priorities, and this is why I will continue to work hard to reduce the regulatory barriers facing businesses. And as a former company director myself, I well understand the challenges that all businesses face on a daily basis. 

We need to connect the entrepreneur with the tools and essential resources they need to be successful

Good financial management is paramount to the success of any small business. When asked what the biggest obstacle they face is, many small businesses will tend to cite cashflow.

And accountants have a significant role in advising companies in this sector on financial matters at critical points in their development – from helping them utilise financial software to preparing reports for tax purposes.

Advice from a professional accountant can save a new business from avoidable financial pitfalls and help ensure its long-term success. And yet fewer than half of small businesses opt to seek any external advice: those that do report improvements to their business performance as a result.

That is precisely why Business in You was created – to connect entrepreneurs with the tools and support they need to be successful. Launched by the prime minister in January, Business in You is a partnership between government and private enterprise that highlights business support and essential resources. Business in You showcases information on finance opportunities, mentoring, guidance on exporting, assistance with employment, and various other forms of business support.

The partnership can also aid companies seeking help with cash flow management and other accounting matters by directing them through to Business Link.

By sharing the stories of real-life entrepreneurs who have been through challenges and found success, the campaign inspires entrepreneurs and shows companies how they might make use of available resources.

These stories show the human face of entrepreneurship – people such as Jeremy Hurst, who started Slightly Different, a web development and design agency that now employs 15 professionals working with an international client base. He learned first-hand the benefits of utilising external support when he and his business partner realised they needed to take on more staff.

Hurst says the advice he received was useful, and he believes that if Business in You had been available when he was first starting out, the hiring process would have been much easier.

The Business in You campaign has been warmly received by many of the business owners I have spoken to. ICAEW was an early supporter of the campaign and has now been joined by a host of other partner organisations such as eBay, Wickes, and the Federation of Small Businesses. In addition, some of the UK’s most successful and well-known entrepreneurs – such as Dragons’ Den dragon Peter Jones and former dragon James Caan – are getting behind the effort and sharing their experiences through mentoring.

I encourage you all to get involved with the Business in You campaign by offering your time and skills as a business mentor and helping the UK’s small and medium sized enterprises achieve the growth they seek. Your expertise can be an invaluable asset.


Michael Fallon Michael Fallon MP is minister for business and enterprise