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Essex has a bright future. Small businesses will be a crucial part of that future. The ceremonial county of Essex represents a diverse selection of towns and communities with varied histories and economies. Technology and agriculture have always taken a lead in the fertile lands of Essex with industry largely confined to the South of the county. This variety has proved to be a hotbed for innovation with small businesses are thriving in the area. With so little growth expected in the core ‘big business’ activities of the county and with many sadly having closed or left we will have to increasingly look to small business to create jobs and growth.
The Recession Has Tipped The Balance In Favour Of Small Businesses
They operate in new, dynamic industries, can control their costs and adapt their trading daily to the requirements of their customers. Contrast these to the practices of older big businesses such as Polestar the news printer, reported to be leaving Colchester – A legacy industry that can no longer be relied upon to provide growth and jobs in the county.
“The number of people setting up their own business has reached an all-time high. If you look around Colchester there are not that many large businesses employing a large number of people.”
Bob Baggalley, CE Colchester & Essex Business Agency
With technology and cheaper labour abroad continuing to be a big outsourcing and relocation factor for big firms entrepreneurship and adding value at a higher skill level is going to become crucial to jobs and growth in the county.
How Essex Business Forum Provides Opportunities
Small businesses have to work together and form symbiotic relationships to really thrive in this challenging economy. It’s not enough to be a great mortgage broker if you’re letting tens of thousands of pounds worth of professional indemnity insurance business walk out the door because it’s outside your area of expertise or qualifications. Networking allows you to provide leads to other local businesses but also develop commercial relationships, friendships and have a good time with other driven local entrepreneurs over breakfast. There are many areas of expertise small business owners will need to call on over their lifetime and often in areas where it’s tough to know who to trust. Your friends at the Business Forum will soon become a first point of call.
The Challenges Small Business Owners Face In 2012
2011 was a challenging year for many with the Federation of Small Businesses confidence index falling again in Quarter 4 as a result. Inflation has already started to ease off in 2012 which should allow the Bank of England to persist in their low base rate strategy. As the European crisis comes to it’s eventual conclusion one way or another the high street banks will be able to accurately predict their capital requirements with some certainty – which they currently cannot – all of which will lead to more lending to small businesses.
It’s no surprise to see the Financial Times report that the small businesses who are thriving during this downturn are those with access to funding. The Government and Banks must continue to work to honour their promises to deliver more funding to deserving small businesses so that they can deliver the jobs and growth they are fully capable of providing. If this lending does not materialise it’s likely another tough year will follow for small business confidence.
One of the unfortunate trends of the last year was the number of scams being perpetrated on the owners of small businesses. Two of the largest involved too good to be true debt solutions provided by what appeared to be large organised firms. Many businesses including reputable financial advisers built partnerships with these firms only to find their clients out of pocket. As desperate times arrive on our shores it’s even more important to be vigilant for opportunities that seem too good to be true.
One of the big opportunities for small businesses that are growing is coming from hugely depressed labour costs. Big business closing up shop frees up a large amount of skilled labour willing to work for lower rates than in previous parts of the economic cycle. It’s also positive to note that the sectors with the most positive outlook for this year tend to be those preferred by small businesses – services and technology based whereas those dominated by big business such as transport look set to have a much tougher year.