News and blog

Cobweb publishes occasional opinion articles and papers which review, question and challenge different topics relating to business start up and micro-enterprise, business support policy and entrepreneurship best practice.

Practitioners, policymakers and business owners are welcome to comment and share their own views or experiences.

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What micro-business owners don't need

September 20th, 2013 / 14 comments

It’s almost two years since the Coalition Government withdrew all central funding for face-to-face support for business start ups and the small/micro-business sector. Since then, the Coalition and the Department for Business (BIS) have made various attempts to put something else in place and have either backed or provided token levels of funding for several initiatives to compensate for the micro-business support vacuum…

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Why Mentoring and the Department for Business are failing

March 28th, 2013 / 4 comments

Contrary to continual claims by BIS that the biggest headaches and priorities faced by small business owners are red tape and access to finance, BIS’ own survey results provide a strong indication that problems with sourcing funding has not been an issue for 90% of business owners, and 98% had not sought information or advice relating to regulations.

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A milestone, a cow's backside and the business support banjo

January 10th, 2013 / 5 comments

This week, EnterQuest reached a significant milestone with this being the 500th issue of the bulletin since it was launched back in 2003. One consistent subject upon which we have steadfastly held our ground is that, despite what is widely claimed elsewhere, starting up and running a business is far from easy – in fact, it can be eminently difficult and merciless – something that most people are not cut out for…

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Business support sector at full capacity and struggling to meet demand

November 19th, 2012 / 5 comments

Business support and advice agencies are currently facing record levels of demand for their services at a time when restrictions […]

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The past, present and future of business support

November 1st, 2012 / 7 comments

A significant event occurred at the end of last month when the Business Link website was finally switched off and […]

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Businesses barely accessing online Government support

September 17th, 2012 / 10 comments

Online Government support services such as and are still only being used by a tiny minority of small […]

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Return of the ‘one-stop shop’ for business support recommended

March 19th, 2012 / 9 comments

The Government must clear up the “alphabet soup” of business support schemes and set up a single business support agency, according to a new report commissioned by the Department for Business (BIS)…

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The enterprise graveyard – Part 2

January 12th, 2012 / 8 comments

Our lead article last week presented a rather controversial argument which raised questions about 2012 being held up by Government and others as the ‘year for enterprise’, and whether it makes sense to encourage more start ups, especially now there is so little genuine local business support available…

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2012 and the enterprise graveyard

January 5th, 2012 / 13 comments

Is it right to encourage the start up of more hairdressers, shops and freelancers to add to the struggling hairdressers, shops and freelancers who are already scraping the barrel in terms of finding demand from customers with spare disposable income for their already widely available products and services – especially following the near wipeout of practical, face-to-face support?…

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The current state of business support: has BIS got it right or wrong?

October 3rd, 2011 / 5 comments

New research has been released by the Department for Business (BIS) into the way that businesses use formal external support. The […]

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Government launches business mentor network

July 4th, 2011 / 19 comments

The Government has launched its new network of volunteer business mentors, Speaking ahead of the launch last week, business […]

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Where to find good business advice and support

March 18th, 2011 / 8 comments

Since the coalition Government announced its decision to cut back funding for face-to-face business advice it has been very difficult […]

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BIS research shows businesses prefer face-to-face support, but it’s going online instead

February 28th, 2011 / 3 comments

Research into what businesses in England would like from a revamped Business Link service has indicated that face-to-face advice for […]

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Business Link: friend or foe to local enterprise agencies?

February 21st, 2011 / 5 comments

This week minister for small business Mark Prisk invited readers of to a live question and answer session regarding […]

‘Must haves’ for small business support

July 1st, 2010 / 7 comments

In the last few days Business and Enterprise Minister, Mark Prisk, has been reported as saying that the regional Business […]

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Mixed reactions to Tories' plan to scrap Business Link

February 23rd, 2010 / 5 comments

Shadow Minister for Business and Enterprise Mark Prisk’s announcement that the Conservatives will scrap Business Link if they win the […]

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Business support policy should not be driven by central Government, say advisers

February 2nd, 2010 / 3 comments

In December 2009 Cobweb carried out its latest survey of UK business advisers to find out their opinions on whether […]