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Supporting SMEs Q3 2022

Solutions for small businesses to help the economy grow

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Michelle Ovens CBE

Founder, Small Business Britain

Small businesses in the UK are a major part of the economy, but they need more practical support in this tough landscape.

Many headlines show small businesses struggling in this economic climate. There are no easy solutions, but there should be greater recognition of the massive opportunity bubbling away in our small business ecosystem.

Small businesses make up 99% of UK business and are at the heart of our country’s recovery. They have long needed greater support and encouragement to achieve their potential which is especially true with mounting economic challenges.

Shifting focus on small business ideas for success

The very smallest businesses — sole traders and microbusinesses, which total around 5.3 million — have particularly ripe potential to be unlocked for Great Britain and are rarely given focus.

Skills need to be part of this focus. Entrepreneurs start businesses because they have great ideas and understanding in specialist areas, but they rarely have all the skills needed to scale from the outset.

Small businesses make up 99% of UK business and are at the heart of our country’s recovery.

Available programmes committed to helping business owners

The Government-backed ‘Help to Grow’ programmes seek to address this by offering business owners the mentoring, tools, and training to develop their understanding and supercharge their growth.

As many firms as possible need to be accessing Help to Grow. To explore ways of expanding the numbers of businesses taking part, we’re piloting a new, online-only version of the Help to Grow: Management programme with Oxford Brookes Business School, funded by Lloyds Bank Academy.

But there also needs to be similar support designed for the tiniest of businesses which are not always eligible for broader programmes. These businesses — being at earlier phases of the entrepreneurial journey – require different skills and tools compared to larger businesses.

Ensuring microbusinesses are not left out

Sole traders often struggle to take time out of running their businesses due to limited time and resources. They need support that is flexible, free, and focused on the everyday challenges they face to grow.

For our part, Small Business Britain has launched the ‘Small and Mighty Enterprise Programme’ — a free, six-week online course offering expert guidance, peer-to-peer support, and mentoring. It is intended to fit around existing work commitments and offer inclusive learning for microbusinesses.

We need more ideas and solutions like this. The private and public sectors need to come together to drive economic recovery by focusing on how to nurture skills and inspire growth. This is undoubtedly harder to do in tough times, but it is important now more than ever.

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