No longer ‘invisible’

One of the consequences of the financial meltdown over the last seven years has been the gradual awakening of the establishment to the power and importance of our small business community.

That is not to say that small business has been completely invisible for the last half century, but I have found that the vast majority of those making policy with regard to SMEs have been paying lip-service to a perceived voting bloc rather than dealing with fundamental issues of support, financing, risk and education.

Of course small businesses are good. Of course they are engines of growth, of course they employ millions. But in the end small businesses, in general, have been going it alone. Where there has been support for owners it has generally been from friends and families or sometimes begrudging lenders, who talk a good game but simply don’t know how to deal with small businesses individually. Owners often complain about all being “tarred with the same brush”.

This week I am speaking at an event organised by the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Programme. This innovative programme, launched in 2010, brings together small business owners and over a one-day-a-week for 12 weeks introduces participants to experts from all areas of business who will help provide vital support to overcome the daily challenges faced by UK business owners.

The programme boasts the might of one of the great global finance giants and the fact that it has initiated this programme speaks volumes about the serious approach that is now being taken toward this often overlooked sector.

It is practical and forward-looking and I am extremely pleased to be involved in this enterprise, as it mimics much of the work that we do at Clifton Asset Management.

Rather than simply dispensing information, both Goldman Sachs and Clifton recognise that we need to help businesses create a successful pathway, one that enables them to access capital, grow and create profits.

Okay, 12 one-day sessions may not solve all the immediate problems faced in business, but it is a fantastic launch pad. As one of the owners interviewed in the excellent Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Programme video remarked, “the end of the course was really just the start.”

Exciting and dynamic. More please.

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