Small businesses hope to get Britain trading

Posted on 27 Feb 2012

The Forum of Private Business’ Get Britain Trading 2012 campaign is being launched today, with 55% of its supporters anticipating growth or strong growth in the coming year.

The event, which will be attended by Business Minister Mark Prisk, follows research conducted by the Forum of Private Business (FPB) that shows entrepreneurs and leaders are confidence for 2012.

Sixty percent of respondents said they hope to innovate in 2012 and while 74% of small firms are looking to target customers in the UK, 17% are focusing on overseas markets.

The small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) involved in the survey said that the credit and finance provided by the government’s UK Export Finance is helping to fund growth in overseas markets at a time when finance is difficult to obtain from banks.

Speaking about the government’s initiatives for SMEs, Business and Enterprise Minister Mark Prisk said: “An enhanced Business Link website gives entrepreneurs a single place to find the help and advice they need to develop their business.”

“Thousands of business mentors are being trained up through the Get Mentoring initiative and we want to ensure that businesses can access the finance they need at an affordable rate.  Businesses can find more information about support available for them through the new Business In You campaign, which aims to encourage entrepreneurs to go for it and make 2012 the year of enterprise,” said Mr Prisk.

Mr Prisk joins the forum’s chief executive, Phil Orford, in addressing business owners from a range of industries on the contribution small firms make to the UK’s economy and discussing the barriers to growth that they face.

“Economic conditions are tough but we know firsthand that there are many success stories of business owners who have achieved great things against the odds, as well as numerous opportunities for growth,” said Mr Orford.

FPB’s Get Britain Trading survey suggests that, while businesses are seeing opportunities for growth, 58% have been unable or unwilling to take advantage of them.

Many firms still face numerous obstacles to growth, with rising energy and transport costs during 2011 being the major issue. In all, 94% of have seen energy bills increase over the past year, followed closely by rises in transport costs (92%) and increases in the price of raw materials (82%).

The FPB has called for a code of conduct to police the way utilities companies treat small firms and is working with Ofgem and the Energy Retailers Association (ERA) on guidelines to reduce the impact of back billing on micro businesses.

E.ON UK’s chief executive Tony Cocker said: “We support moves by Ofgem to reduce complexity in the market, it’s clear that something has to change if we are to re-establish industry’s relationship with its customers.  Therefore, we have listened and we are ready to get behind this market changing move.