Catch up on the big issues in this week’s Small Business Bites. We cut through the noise to dig out stories that really matter to UK small business owners, from the last month. Here’s our roundup of things you need to know:
Government launches consultation process for new small business commissioner
The Government has launched a consultation process on long-awaited plans for a small business commissioner to tackle late payments. The Government is seeking views from businesses of all sizes on how the new appointment will handle complaints. This includes proposals on the following areas:
- Small businesses that should be in scope of the commissioner’s services
- Criteria for making complaints to the commissioner
- How the commissioner will consider, determine and make recommendations for complaints
- Publishing reports and recommendations on complaints
The Department for Business said it expects to appoint a commissioner ‘in 2017’.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) welcomed the launch of the consultation (on October 13), but said more needs to be done. National chairman Mike Cherry said: “Progress to tackle the UK’s poor payment culture has been too slow. Today’s announcement of the next step for the small business commissioner is necessary but not sufficient to tackle the £26.8 billion currently held up and not paid to small suppliers. FSB research, due to be published shortly, shows about a third of payments to small businesses in the UK are still late, with an average delay of one month. This hampers smaller businesses who struggle with their cash flow, but also prevents the whole UK economy working efficiently.”
Company Check carried out a survey on late payments in August and found that 68% of businesses have had to deal with this issue in the past.
Failing to switch to cheaper energy proves costly for SMES
Failure to switch to cheaper energy suppliers has cost the UK’s SMEs £2.4 billion over the past five years, according to new research by Love Energy Savings.
The firm found that 30% of the nation’s 5.4 million small and medium-sized businesses have not switched electricity or gas supplier for half a decade. If they had changed to a cheaper tariff, they could have saved almost £1,500 each.
The findings also reveal that less than half (47%) of businesses have looked into the possibility of switching to another energy supplier or a different tariff in the last 12 months.
Love Energy Savings managing director Phil Foster said: “It seems that many businesses are still either unaware of the potential for savings or find the process difficult to understand…there is still much to do to encourage and inform owners and managers of the options that are available.”
Small businesses have the happiest staff
LinkedIn’s recent Work Satisfaction Survey questioned more than 10,000 professionals and over 3,500 employers worldwide. The findings? Businesses with ten or fewer employees have the highest levels of job satisfaction.
One in five UK workers say they’d prefer to work for a small business than a larger one, and over a third (37%) would even be willing to take a pay cut for the change to work at a start-up.
Dan Dackombe, director of LinkedIn Talent Solutions, said: “Thanks to social media, it’s never been easier for smaller employers to effectively engage potential new hires. However, our research shows that they feel the need to work harder to recruit despite consistently punching above their weight on employee fulfilment. Our country’s SMEs have a great story to tell and have an opportunity to capitalise on their size when it comes to hiring.”
Number of UK firms at record high
The number of private sector businesses in the UK has hit a record 5.5 million, according to official statistics. The Business Population Estimates show that, at the start of 2016, the UK had a million more small businesses, 4,000 more medium-sized businesses and 900 more large businesses, compared to 2010 – a total increase of 23%.
SMEs account for at least 99% of businesses in every main industry sector.
Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said: “Britain’s businesses are the heroes of our economic revival and it is great to see the number of businesses rise by over a million since 2010.
“Our job creators don’t always get the praise and respect they deserve but we should be proud of our entrepreneurs, business leaders and innovators. The Government is committed to ensuring Britain builds on its success and is the best place to start and grow a business.”
Amazon launches Digital Business Academy
Small businesses across the UK are invited to attend Amazon’s first ever Digital Business Academy on November 23 at its photography studio in Hoxton.
There they will learn how to use the power of digital to grow their business, boost export sales and improve customer experience.
The event is being run in partnership with small business group Enterprise Nation and The Guardian Small Business Network. Speakers on the day include Rajesh Agrawal, deputy mayor of London for business, Doug Gurr, Amazon UK country manager and Emma Jones, founder of Enterprise Nation
For more information visit, or to register your interest visit: https://www.enterprisenation.com/amazon-academy.