Posted: Fri 20th Sep 2013
Last month, we asked you about your plans to grow a business. Your responses are forming part of a '10% Growth' campaign that we're spearheading with Sage One in an effort to support and encourage every small business in the UK to grow by just 10%. If this is achieved, an extra £21bn will be added to the UK economy.
We're taking this message to the government and to big businesses that can help, along with the 10 recommendations your feedback has helped us put together.
46% of respondents to our survey said they were doing a full-time day job and building their business on the side. This is a great way to start, but many are cautious about making the move from part-time to full-time self-employment. A bridging loan would ease this decision.
Friends and family continue to be the most popular form of start-up funding, according to our survey, with working capital (54%) and personal savings (40%) the significantly preferred option for growth capital compared with external investment (7%) or a bank loan (7%). Continuing the family connection, 38% of respondents refer to the role their spouse or partner plays in the business. A tax incentive for family members investing in a family-owned business, similar to the Tante Agaath-Regeling scheme from Holland, would be popular.
More and more parents are starting businesses. Recognise childcare expenses as a business expense so they can be claimed as tax deductible. This would give a double benefit of freeing up time for the business owner, whilst reducing the tax burden.
70% of readers questioned in our survey are looking to grow through creating new products and services. With 74% being lone business owners and 67% confirming they come up with ideas alone. What's required is the space and company to innovate with others! Provide backing for a series of Innovation Days and see the benefits in new products and services from these ambitious businesses.
According to our survey, 44% of businesses want to sell to higher value customers. The government has committed to ensuring 25% of government contracts go to small business - set up a system for this to be tracked and promoted whilst encouraging big companies to do the same with programmes such as PitchUp that have proved successful with large retailers, including John Lewis and Sainsbury's. Connected to this, track prompt payment to ensure small businesses are being paid on time by government and large corporates.
63% of businesses are growing through outsourcing and subcontracting work as opposed to hiring full time staff. Create a new model of mutual ownership where the business owner can offer shares in the company to freelancers and self-employed contractors. This would generate a sense of commitment and shared goals from a flexible workforce.
70% of business owners feel their greatest weakness lies in skills in sales and marketing. Make it a requirement that when a company starts, the budding entrepreneur should attend an approved sales and marketing workshop to offer skills to the business owner and links to Growth Vouchers for accessing ongoing professional support.
52% of businesses are looking to enter new markets. Pop-ups are a low cost and low risk route to achieving this. Support the expansion of pop-up shops across the UK and an international rollout so Great British brands can enter new and international markets.
With new products and access to new markets, small businesses want to keep production in Britain. Support the creation of a platform that matches small businesses looking for manufacturing and production suppliers.
With 19% of survey respondents saying time is the major factor holding them back from growing a business and only 6% quoting advice from a professional advisor, we call on professionals (legal, PR, accounting, etc.) to develop standardised services and packages for basic transactions so business owners save on fees and time.