Lord Young has recently published a report on small business in Britain, that, contrasted with the last report of its kind (the Bolton report in 1971), paints an optimistic picture of small business in britain:
What is startling to a reader of Bolton’s report today is the pessimism with which he regarded the future of the small ﬁrm. He found that there was a state of longterm decline in the number of small ﬁrms and their proportionate contribution to output and employment, and that there was a serious lack of new entrants.
Bolton identiﬁed a declining small business population of around 820,000 businesses, characterised by ﬁrms typically employing fewer than 200 people and contributing 31% of employment. Today the business stock is dominated by around 4.5 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), 99.9% of all businesses – and of these no less than 95.4% are micro
businesses employing fewer than ten employees.
The report has a clear agenda:
There is a real need for a more positive message to bring awareness of the tremendous opportunities that exist despite the current economic situation. I know from personal experience, having started new businesses at the depth of a recession, that this is a time of new opportunities,
when changing circumstances open up new markets as well as closing some long established. For many, entrepreneurship can be at its strongest during tough economic conditions. Dyson, for instance, started at the height of the last recession in 1992 and built up a highly successful company based on the principles of good value and design.
I take this as yet another piece of evidence (along with SEIS, increased R&D Tax Credit, increased or renewed TSB funding, Patent Box, open support for StartupBritain, and others) that the UK Government is firmly supportive of its businesses and wants to encourage much more entrepreneurship in the UK. Encouraging more entrepreneurship is something that I’ve long stood for at my swombat.com blog, and through GrantTree and other means.
Also worth having a look at, Lord Young released, with the report, two guides: a guide to starting up and developing a new business and a guide to starting up and growing a business from home, both full of practical tips for where to get funding and advice.