The future of enterprise support in the UK
Yesterday I was fortunate enough to be invited by the National Enterprise Network to a Roundtable Session with the Shadow Minister for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Bill Esterson.
The purpose of the session was to look at how SMEs are supported in the UK. Topics included:
* Current government perspective on the role of small business and how they are supported within the UK to include pre-start and start up
* The current thinking around how this support is delivered and is it appropriate in style and funding?
* Is the American Small Business Administration a model of business support we could use here in the UK?
* Will there be an impact / lag with the withdrawal of funding by EU as we approach 2021?
* If so how is this going to be managed to enable an active growing economy of new and emerging businesses?
What emerged from the session was the fact that enterprise support could be a whole lot better. At present, there is no joined-up approach across the country and, since the demise of Business Link, there is no one, single brand which business owners can understand and go to.
With increasing numbers of start-up enterprises and the challenges of doing business in a global, post Brexit world, there does need to be a step change in three different areas:
1. Visibility and consistency of support
2. Provision of finance to small businesses
I do think that a US-style ‘Enterprise Agency’ would be able to tackle all of these issues. By having a properly and clearly branded organisation with a DVLA-type of centralised website, businesses large and small would know exactly where to go.
Then, growth hubs, business support groups, finance providers, banks as well as tech companies like Google, Facebook and LinkedIn would all be able to act as affiliates and suppliers.
On top of this could be added an e-learning training portal where businesses could go to get support, knowledge, advice and mentoring – something that we at DNAsix are very passionate about.
The question is whether the government have the will or the time to implement such a strategy.