Posted: Thu 5th Jan 2023
On Wednesday Rishi Sunak delivered his first significant speech as prime minister to set out a vision for the country and priorities for government. I attended to hear what's in store for our constituents of small business owners. Here's a round-up.
Economic growth is on the agenda
The prime minister kicked off with five pledges to the country. One is "economic growth" which is, of course, where small businesses play a vital role.
Innovation is the focus
After setting out the pledges which the prime minister referred to as the foundation for a better future, he moved onto a vision to build "the most innovative country in the world".
If you are in the industries of AI, fintech, proptech, science etc, this is good news but it left me wondering what 'innovation' means to the 700,000+ small businesses we support each year at Enterprise Nation. I'm going to kick off a community-wide think about this ie how can innovation be realised in every business and not just the VC fuelled, high growth ones that governments understandably like to celebrate and support.
Pride in communities is driven by lively high streets
There was due attention given to anti-social behavior, the importance of loving families, and strong communities. Expect to see this reflected in programmes from the Department for Levelling Up and hopefully more thinking around how communities can congregate around high streets which serve as experimental retail testbeds for start-ups and a place from which business support can be delivered.
Chief executive of the UK
The prime minister is acting CEO of the UK – the way in which he presented and the number of times he used the word ‘delivery’ and referenced being held accountable resembles a CEO at the start of a New Year; reminding your team of the vision and setting measurable KPIs. As Robert Colvile of the Centre for Policy Studies tweeted, the audience for the speech was very much the government who the PM needs on-side to deliver.
"I will only promise what I can deliver and deliver what I promise" - Rishi Sunak
The address was to the nation and all shareholders in UK plc. I like the fact our CEO is asking us to hold him to account but would have loved to see more recognition given to the millions of small businesses who strive each day to build businesses and communities.
How Enterprise Nation is interacting with government
To finish, here are five ways in which Enterprise Nation is interacting with government in 2023 to ensure small businesses are not overlooked and operate in supportive conditions:
Our national StartUp UK programme kicks off for 2023 at StartUp Show in London on 28 January. This is on the back of Enterprise Nation research showing that one third of adults in the UK are considering becoming their own boss.
Access to digital skills and tools continues to be the number one demand on the platform. We will respond by scaling programmes such as business.connected and we are exploring how we can help government continue the work of Help to Grow: Digital which is closing applications in February.
Selling to government
The year starts with the minister for the Cabinet Office (who is responsible for SME Procurement) and the SME Crown Representative having kindly agreed to speak at ‘Meet the Buyer’ events. This will be followed by more support for small businesses to sell to bigger brands and government.
Selling to the world
We want to hear a louder beating drum for small businesses to trade globally. Watch this space for a new programme to offer practical support for exports launching soon.
Across all actions, founders want support from mentors, advisers, peers. The Help to Grow: Management course comes with mentorship in-built, as do Start Up Loans. We are working with national partners to recruit even more mentors, ideally some from the 50+ population who are being encouraged back to the workforce.