By Eric Butler
By Laura Thomas
By Mike Hudson
By Betty Rogers
By Dean Cruise
By Eve Shaw
By Nicola Williams
We believe that small firms are the lifeblood of any local economy, generating wealth and employment for millions of people. We want to make it easier for an accurate company search to be undertaken by prospective customers. History has proven that the greater the number of entrepreneurial small organisations that exist within an economy, the higher the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of that economy becomes. Owners create and attack new markets, create new products and services that generates jobs, wealth and prosperity amongst local communities. For example, in the UK alone there are 4.9m small and medium sized enterprises (SME), and an incredible 2.1m of those are micro businesses based at home. SME firms employ nearly half the UK workforce and accounts for nearly half of the UK's turnover. To help these small organisations, there are many trade associations, business networks, forums and lobbying groups, providing a valuable voice, on behalf of company owners.
Like most Western economies, the UK is now a service led economy. Millions of small firms provide thousands of different types of small B2B services. This 'services sector' generally, contributes the majority of GDP. These firms deliver services locally that they cannot easily export. So their success or demise is directly linked to confidence, and local spending and investment patterns. Most small firms provide invaluable 'business to business' support for larger commercial customers. Others deliver services directly to consumers. Most small firms trade as either a Sole Trader, Limited Liability Company or Partnership.
At a time of economic uncertainty, an emerging trend is the increase in over 50's starting up their own firm. Many do so to supplement their retirement income out of necessity as inflation erodes savings and pensions. Many older people start a business up out of choice. The desire to feel active and worthwhile. Generally speaking, most entrepreneurs start their own small business in order to take control of their own destiny, and capitalise on proven skills and experience. Yet talent is not always enough. As an entrepreneur you will need a realistic business plan, complete personal commitment, and the ability to work hard, and adapt when times become tough. If you plan to deliver a service you will be selling yourself - not just a package of business services. Your integrity, work rate, customer service and listening skills - will all be called into question. You will also have to spend time and money learning and dealing with the laws and regulations that impact day to day activities. Unfortunately, a certain proportion of business start-ups fail within the first few years of trading. Too many business owners concentrate on selling, without bothering to forecast cash flow problems (such as unforeseen expenses or bad debt).
Traditionally most small and medium sized businesses are generally under funded, and do not have the professional financial expertise and experience of finance managers of large corporate organisations. As personal, business and Government debt mountains exploded over the years, eventually the world woke up to the scale of bad debt. The subsequent Global liquidity crisis (or 'credit crunch' as it has become known), now means small firms struggle to access vital business loans and overdraft facilities. This is prohibiting business investment in ongoing activities. Accessing credit is the now the number one challenge for owners of small firms.