Posted: Fri 5th May 2017
We've been tracking the small business-related General Elections being discussed on social media and pulled them into our election tracker. It's very early days in the campaigning but what have we learnt so far?
Unsurprisingly Brexit is already a massive issue this election.
Theresa May continues to bang the drum that it's her business owners needs to vote for to get the best deal for Britain, Labour's Jeremy Corbyn claiming that the Conservative deal with the EU won't benefit everyone, and Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron criticising the Tory "hard Brexit" and promising a second EU referendum.
Your vote at this election will strengthen my hand and the UK's negotiating position on Brexit. pic.twitter.com/2rYP0QfGzJ"” Theresa May (@theresa_may) May 1, 2017
Labour will ensure we achieve a Brexit deal that protects jobs, living standards, workers' rights and environmental protections. pic.twitter.com/FYa1c2CPtE"” Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) May 1, 2017
We were at the launch of Virgin Media Business' VOOM competition and despite the host insisting that the questions from the audience should focus on the contest rather than any political issues, Britain's exist from the EU was raised immediately. We caught Sir Richard Branson's answer on camera.
"It's important that it doesn't become cumbersome, bureaucratic and expensive as it did before the European Union was formed," he said. "If we can get rid of that hanging around our necks, I think small businesses can continue to flourish."
Our view is that there are still plenty of opportunities for entrepreneurs and the party that communicates that the best for entrepreneurs is likely to succeed.
It was good to hear from one of our members and trade mission go-er, Ricky Kothari from T-Sticks, supporting that view by saying that he's ignoring the politics and is building trade relationships in Europe while we're still in the EU.
What are the parties offering small businesses?
So far, not much.
To be fair though, the party manifestos aren't out yet but it will be interesting to see how much focus is given to the small companies and entrepreneurs.
We have seen a few policies and comments of relevance to small firms though.
Jeremy Corbyn announced Labour will introduce four new bank holidays if it wins power. The news received mixed views from small business owners.
Labour hellbent on further screwing contractors & small business by introducing 4 more bank holidays. No work=No pay #GeneralElection2017"” Stephen Ford (@Kleesho) April 23, 2017
Tim Farron meanwhile has attempted to use Brexit to court entrepreneurs.
Speaking to the London Evening Standard, he said: "Thousands of entrepreneurs from Europe choose to set up in London because it is one of the world's best places to do business.
But the disastrous hard Brexit Theresa May chosen, outside the single market, is hanging businesses out to dry. There is a serious risk business owners could choose to set up elsewhere, costing jobs in London."
His comments followed new research which showed 174,000 small and medium size businesses in the UK are led by at least one EU director, with almost half of these companies based in London.
What small businesses think
So what's the view of small business owners? Tell us your thoughts here and we'll publish the best responses.
We spotted an interesting report from ITV News featuring entrepreneurs in North Derby sharing their views about the election.
A micro brewery owner called for corporation tax to be reduced, and VAT on drinks to be increased, while a graphic designer said he's worried about Brexit because the EU funds the building he works in and finances some of the projects his firm has won which could lead to job losses.
An interesting development resulting from the surprise election is the legislation that won't be passed as a result.
Among them is the government's controversial Making Tax Digital plans which require small businesses to submit tax information digitally four times a year.
The move was criticised by several business groups and MPs who have claimed the plans are being rushed and businesses aren't ready.
Interestingly though, results from Enterprise Nation's latest Small Business Barometer, the full results of which we'll release soon, found businesses are roughly 50-50 in favour of wanting to see the back of the annual tax return, while 76% said they would be ready for quarterly digital tax reporting and the upturn in productivity that can bring.
Also shelved was another controversial change; the cut to the annual tax-free allowance on dividend income from Â£5,000 to Â£2,000.
A Parliament of entrepreneurs?
In 2015 we published a list of the General Election candidates with a business background.
We'll be updating the list once all candidates are confirmed, but we already have a new one to add to the list.
Michelle Dewberry, who won BBC TV's The Apprentice in 2006 and has started several businesses of her own, has announced she is standing as a candidate in Hull West and Hessle.
Claiming to be a life-long Labour supporter who is now frustrated with the party, she is standing as an independent but backing a "Tory Brexit".
Lord Sugar's adviser Karren Brady is already in the House of Lords, so could we soon see another representative of The Apprentice hanging out in Westminster?