16 May 2013
Lord Young published his Growing Your Business - A report on Growing Micro Businesses on Monday and it's a good read with some insightful views. I've spent some time with Lord Young as part of my involvement on the board of the Start-Up Loans Company, and I never cease to be amazed at his enthusiasm and energy. I'd love to think I will be so sprightly when I am 81!
The report can be found at the link above and three things strike me in particular. Firstly, the proposals regarding public sector procurement starting on page 19. Whatever government might say, or intend, the reality is that many small businesses find procuring for public sector contracts bureaucratic and daunting. Their perception is that large organisations will be favoured in the process and - whether they're right or wrong - we all know that perception is, for them, reality. The removal of the PQQ system for contracts below €200,000 makes very good sense, as does the 'single passport' proposal allowing pre-qualification data to be entered once and then - after approval by one authority - apply to all bids across multiple authorities.
Secondly, the recognition that "Few small firms understand the importance of cash flow particularly when applying for a first bank loan." I guess the fact that the ICM/BIS Managing Cashflow Guides have been downloaded more than 450,000 times since they were launched in 2008 and are seeing regular and substantial monthly increases reinforces this point.
Thirdly, the recommendation that the upper age restriction be removed from the Start-Up Loans scheme. Originally set at 18-24, then in January changed to 18-30, this latest suggestion would allow anyone to benefit from what has been a hugely successful initiative. Almost 4,000 businesses have been started, receiving loans totalling nearly £20m, and the creation of a private company to manage the scheme is a radical and
innovative alternative to previous government propositions. The businesses receiving funding, support and mentoring have the chance of a real kick-start towards their entrepreneurial vision and aspirations. At the start of 2012, micro businesses (0-9 employees) accounted for 32% of private sector employment and 20% of private sector turnover. Growing the contribution of such businesses can only be good news for the economy and add to the increased confidence that is starting to emerge.
The report's 54 pages contain much more, including the proposal for Growth Vouchers encouraging businesses to obtain support and advice, and just as I am proud to have been engaged on the Start-Up Loans Company Board since its inception, I am also proud that the ICM is listed as one of the organisations with which Lord Young engaged in the writing of the report.
Finally, it would be remiss of me not to mention the fact that the Institute of Credit Management won another PR award last week. The press release announcing the win can be found here and I'm delighted at the recognition of what we, together with our PR agency Gravity London, have achieved in raising the profile of professional credit managers and the vital role they play in supporting the economic recovery.
Next week, I'll be standing down from my blog-writing responsibility for a week and we'll be publishing a guest blog by Professor Russel Griggs OBE who is Lead reviewer of the banks appeals processes and Chair of the Scottish Government's Regulatory Review Group ahead of the publication of his second annual report in June.