Four small business asks for the new government

Four small business asks for the new government
Emma Jones
Emma JonesOfficial

Posted: Wed 10th Jul 2024

Enterprise Nation founder Emma Jones shares four key small business asks for Keir Starmer's new government.

As a new government gets to work and ministers are announced, we congratulate Jonathan Reynolds on his appointment as business secretary, and Douglas Alexander and Sarah Jones as ministers in the Department for Business and Trade.  

More appointments are to follow and we look forward to learning who secures the role of small business minister, previously well held by Kevin Hollinrake.

As a new administration begins, small businesses are questioning what this means for their future. From Enterprise Nation platform data of 65,000+ small business visitors each month, the topic of manifestos and small business policies ranked as number one content item in June. This interest in politics is small business owners acknowledging that the policies designed in Whitehall can impact confidence and trading levels across the UK.  

On behalf of the Enterprise Nation community of 120,000 members, we request:  

A plea for some continuity  

We understand the temptation for new ministers to launch new initiatives but please resist starting all over again. There are some sound measures and activities operating including SEIS tax relief, StartUp Loans, Help to Grow: Management, developments in Open Finance, etc. These should ideally be continued.  

Get the money flowing  

A significant point of friction for small firms is getting paid on time. The new government should place priority on money flow around the economy and consider the role of e-invoicing in enabling prompt payment, as called for by Steve Hare of Sage.  

With a new government in place, certainty is restored and confidence in the UK boosted, which will lead to available finance for start-ups and small firms. But will founders apply for the cash? A national programme to support small businesses to get 'Fit for Finance' would be welcomed. This is not just to raise money, but to manage money. The more confident a founder feels about cashflow, the more optimistic they are about growth, and so will invest in new staff, tech, machinery etc. The economy then grows for all.  

Buy from small firms  

There is a clear 'quick win' and opportunity with the Procurement Act coming into effect in October 2024. This offers buyers in the public sector more flexibility over how they buy and from whom they buy.  

Small businesses should be ready to make the most of the opportunity to sell to government; either direct or via strategic suppliers. At the sake of not sounding repetitive to the recommendation above, a programme to support small businesses to get 'Fit to Supply' would deliver return by connecting SMEs to suitable contracts, offering training on how to bid, and reporting back to government on how much is being spent with SMEs.

Such a programme could be delivered and co-funded with the private sector who also gain from having a large base of local and supplier-ready small firms.  

Offer targeted support  

From start-up to growth, small business owners need access to quality support, whether that be in the form of fully funded programmes, trusted advisers, peer groups, or mentors. On topics from hiring to exporting, support can help.  

The more targeted that support, the more it can help. For example, onboarding a business that has started exporting into a suite of support on mastering international trade, or supplying a founder who has made their first hire with employment checklists and HR tips. 

With an anticipated extension of Shared Prosperity Funding, there is opportunity for this government to analyse data from public funded programmes to measure what has worked and focus future funds on the programmes that small businesses want and value.  

At Enterprise Nation we continue to work towards the vision of leveraging data of what we know about small businesses in our community, to serve relevant resource.

Doing so saves time and money for the small business owner who doesn't have to 'think' about the programmes, grants, contracts and learning that are right for them, and it saves millions of pounds for the taxpayer, reducing the need to market every programme to everyone, but instead target the right programme, to the right small business, at the right time.  

We look forward to working with the new government to ensure the UK remains a most enterprising nation.  

Read Enterprise Nation’s full small business manifesto for the new government here.

Emma Jones
Emma JonesOfficial
Following a degree in Law and Japanese, Emma joined international accounting firm Arthur Andersen, where she worked in London, Leeds and Manchester offices and set up the firm's Inward Investment practice that attracted overseas companies to locate in the UK. In 2000, bitten by the bug, Emma left the firm to start her first business, Techlocate. After 15 months, the company was successfully sold to Tenon plc. The experience of starting, growing and selling a business from a home base gave Emma the idea for Enterprise Nation which was launched in 2006 as the home business website. The company has since expanded to become a small business membership community of over 75,000 people who benefit from events and support: online and in person. Enterprise Nation also presents a campaigning voice to government and the media on behalf of its members. In 2021, Emma was awarded a CBE for services to small businesses and entrepreneurs.

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