Posted: Thu 11th Feb 2016
We took a group of entrepreneurs from the West Midlands to 10 Downing Street this week to meet Daniel Korski, deputy head of policy to prime minster David Cameron.
The meeting was led by our West Midlands Champion Debbie Assinder, founder of Rodborough Consultancy
Alongside Debbie were:
Carrie Bates, Little Coffee Bag Co
Henry Deakin, Deakin and Francis
Drew Roper, Yamination Studios
Brian Donnelly, Synapse
Ian Bluck, Coco Loves
Imandeep Kaur, Birmingham Impact Hub
Rosie Ginday, Miss Macaroon
Timothy Andrews, HollyWood Monster
Matthew Dredger, Borroclub
Robert Hallmark, Gruhme
Robert Bloxham, Orb
Debra Whitehead, Debra Hepburn
Matthew Fowell, Five Rivers
Wade Lynn, Island Delight
Siobhan Harper Nunes Shakti Women
Mike Bandar, Turn Partners
Oojal Singh Jhutti, iWazat
Chris Brown, Barques PR
Ian Bluck suggested that the government runs a competition in the style of Theo Paphitis' Small Business Sunday competition on Twitter. Business owners could pitch for the chance to provide products and services to a government department.
Matthew Dredger called for more support for sharing economy businesses based outside of London. He referenced a recent government-supported trade mission to the US which was only attended by companies from London and the South East.
Wade Lynn, who has been running his business for 25 years, praised the government's Regional Growth Fund which allowed him to invest in new machinery. On procurement, Lynn said big companies should be encouraged to give a percentage of their contracts to small suppliers. He cited outsourcing and energy services firm MITIE as a good example of a large business which is already does so.
Robert Hallmark, who quit a career in the City to launch his male fragrance company, suggested the government create an income support scheme for new entrepreneurs that would be match funded by local councils. Recipients would be continually assessed to see whether they are committed to running their business.
Henry Deakin, who runs the world's oldest family jewellers, said the company recently applied for its first grant and found there was lots of paperwork involved. He called for ways to make the application process easier. Deakin praised UK Trade & Investment's support for small businesses to attend one trade show but added that for companies to be properly noticed by potential clients they need to attend three trade shows.
Debra Whitehead said the word 'intern' has bad connotations even though in the fashion industry internships are crucial for budding young designers. She suggested the same initiatives introduced for apprenticeships and traineeships could be introduced for interns.
Brian Donnelly praised Innovate UK's funding. He also called for some of the restrictions that prevent small companies from talking publicly about big clients to be lifted. It would be very beneficial for PR and marketing, he said.
Mike Bandar said the government's dividend tax reforms will negatively affect his business. He also called for more support for small companies looking to recruit skilled technology staff, and support for improving the public brand of the West Midlands.
Oojal Singh Jhutti said the cost of train travel in the UK is high so suggested that a discount for small business owners is introduced.
Christopher Brown said there needs to be greater collaboration between small business support groups.
Timothy Andrews praised the Regional Growth Fund and research and development tax credits. He said improvements need to be made to Birmingham's infrastructure, particularly transport.
Robert Bloxham suggested that the government set up a group of small business owners experienced in accessing grants to help those doing it for the first time.
Siobhan Harper Nunes called for a revival of something similar to the Women's Enterprise Directorate to bring together all the support available for female entrepreneurs.
Imandeep Kaur said there needs to be more regional spending by innovation organisations like Nesta. She also called for education in schools around the realities of running a business.
Rosie Ginday suggested that the government introduce a corporation tax break for social enterprises linked to their impact on society.
Carrie Bates said there needs to be more experienced business owners speaking in schools who children can relate to. She said some of the millionaire entrepreneurs featured on TV cannot be related to by children.
Debbie Assinder said: "I was proud to lead the recent delegation of small business owners from the West Midlands to Downing Street. Daniel Korski was most receptive to all of the views expressed. The visit provided a great opportunity for the businesses to share with Daniel the opportunities they saw for their businesses and to suggest constructive ideas that would help the small business sector.
"The delegation represented a broad range of dynamic high growth enterprises from the West Midlands. Particular emphasis was on digital, creative, food and drink and social enterprise. Government can now be in no doubt that the West Midlands Engine is revving and raring to go!"
â€" Debbie Assinder (@Debbie_RCL) February 10, 2016
â€" Chris Brown (@pipedownmrbrown) February 9, 2016
â€" Drew Roper (@YaminationS) February 9, 2016
â€" Oojal Jhutti (@iamooj) February 9, 2016
â€" Michael Bandar (@Mikebandar) February 10, 2016
â€" Matthew Fowell (@matthew_fowell) February 9, 2016
â€" Chris Brown (@pipedownmrbrown) February 9, 2016
â€" Imandeep Kaur (@ImmyKaur) February 9, 2016
â€" Matt Dredger (@MattDredger) February 9, 2016