StartUp Croydon may be best known for our training, mentoring and office and meeting rooms for startups and small businesses, however, our remit reaches to other activities including championing and lobbying for local start-ups and small businesses.
As a member of the National Enterprise Network, a membership organisation of similar enterprise support organisations, on 31 January we attended a round table meeting with Bill Esterson, Labour MP for Sefton Central and Shadow Business and International Trade Minister.
On the agenda
The purpose of the session was to look at how SMEs are supported in the UK. Topics included:
- Current government perspective on the role of small business and how they are supported within the UK to include pre-start and start up
- The current thinking around how this support is delivered and is it appropriate in style and funding?
- Is the American Small Business Administration a model of business support we could use here in the UK?
- Will there be an impact/lag with the withdrawal of funding by EU as we approach 2021?
- If so, how is this going to be managed to enable an active growing economy of new and emerging businesses?
Main discussion points
During the meeting discussion focused around three key areas:
Finance – The importance of early intervention and the barriers to funding (the track record of a business, banks not willing to lend, default rate on loans etc).
Skills – Lack of teaching of core skills at school, maximising the knowledge of the older generation, and the challenge of changing culture
Procurement – The need to simplify the process and level the playing field, the reluctance for local authorities to use small businesses as tier 1s and the benefits of the small business procurement package.
- Enterprise support could be a whole lot better
- Currently there is no joined-up approach across the country and since the demise of Business Link, there is no single, recognisable brand that business owners understand and know how to access
- With increasing numbers of start-up enterprises and the challenges of doing business in a global, post-Brexit work, there needs to be a step change in 3 areas:
1. Visibility and consistency of support
2. Provision of finance to small business
We will continue to support new and existing businesses now and in the future in whatever way we can to ensure that they have the best start possible and the best supportive environment to help them sustain and grow and contribute to Croydon’s local economy.