The Small Business Debate – it’s all to play for

Five years ago, on the eve of the last general election, the small business landscape was a very different place.

As we hurtle into the next, the 4.6 million SMEs in this country are a booming political force to be reckoned with – wildly distinct from the corporate, big business lobby and are, in effect, a newly-drawn constituency with a new set of demands to match.  The political party that can demonstrate that they have woken up to this revolution will have the upper hand.

March 2 Enterprise Nation is holding the Small Business Debate.  This is a forum for the top business representatives from the major political parties to conduct a specific debate around their small business policies. This is a rare chance to influence the votes of hardworking entrepreneurs.

Secretary of State for Trade and Industry Vince Cable, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Energy Matt Hancock, Shadow Minister for Small Business Toby Perkins, Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party and UKIP’s small business spokesman and MEP Margot Parker will take part in the Question Time-style event in front of an audience of entrepreneurs, start-ups and small business owners.

In the shadow of the recession, small businesses find it easier to retain vitality than their corporate counterparts.  They are agile, less complex and often more confident about growth.

Small and medium sized businesses had a combined turnover of £1.6 trillion in 2014 and account for 99.3 per cent of all private sector businesses and 47.8 per cent of private sector employment. Today, one in seven workers is self-employed, while one in ten UK homes contains a small business.

While big business has a well-established route to the heart of government, there’s a growing need for the blossoming small business community to have its demands taken more seriously.

Over the past few years we’ve seen this new ecosystem developing – and absorbed the real concerns of small businesses. It’s not just a lack of funding or too much red tape that worries them. It’s really practical stuff like making child care costs a tax-deductible expense and convincing more big firms to extend procurement opportunities to firms on merit, not on the number of employees they have. They want to be paid on time and not bankroll big firms seeking to increase their bottom line through exploitation.

I’m looking forward to hearing how politicians feel they have understood the contribution small firms make, and outline the support they believe they can offer to these companies, underpinning the way modern businesses start-up and grow – starting from home, growing by outsourcing, going global and subcontracting.

For tickets and details about the Small Business Debate check here