Two more firms to receive business support from Government

April 27th, 2012 | 6 comments Source: BAD News

The latest initiative to support small firms as part of the Government’s Business In You campaign has been announced by small business Minister, Mark Prisk. The support, which is in the form of a competition run jointly by the Government and the Guardian, will result in a total of two small firms receiving eight mentoring sessions and free advertising in the Guardian worth £15,000.

The announcement that the Government will provide support for two firms comes a day after it was reported that the UK had officially entered a double dip recession.

Mr Prisk has said: “We recognise that small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are key to helping the UK economy grow. Business in You is a great way for entrepreneurs to find out how to access the support and advice that is already out there that can make their enterprise a success.”

According to the Guardian, in association with Business in You, the newspaper is offering two readers “the chance to make their business great with an amazing package of support, including £15,000 of advertising for their company in the Guardian and two one-to-one meetings with each of four business experts: Penny Power, Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones, Carl Hopkins and Mike Southon, all of whom recently took on voluntary roles as mentoring ambassadors for BIS.”

Although there do not appear to be any eligibility restrictions on the two firms who could win this support from the Government through the competition, part of the “fabulous support package” for the winners includes membership of the Institute of Recruiters and the £15,000 of free advertising in the Guardian would only appear to benefit those firms whose target customers are Guardian readers.

According to data collected for 2010/11 local enterprise agencies and related support organisations delivered face-to-face business advice and support to over 320,000 business start ups and small firms in the last year alone, with much of the funding for their activities being received or drawn down from regional Business Link or Regional Development Agency contracts.

That funding for face-to-face start up and small business advice has subsequently been scrapped entirely by the Coalition and replaced by enhancements to the £40 million per year Business Link website, the volunteer Get Mentoring scheme and the Business In You initiative, which asserts that every person in the UK has a business in them.

Despite recent government reports that 15,000 volunteer mentors have now received their half-day training on the Get Mentoring scheme or are registered mentors on the mentorsme website, there are still no official reports regarding the number of start ups or business owners who have received mentoring support through the scheme. In fact, several business professionals who have volunteered for the scheme told BAD News at the Business 2012 event in London last month that they have not had any enquiries or requests for mentoring support, and that during their training they were informed that it is the role of the mentors to find their own clients and provide them with one hour of free mentoring per month.

This latest Government announcement raises some important questions about current business support policy:

What are the targets to ensure the UK emerges from the double dip with more than two firms in the recruitment sector being supported?

What is the strategy and logic for the army of volunteer mentors with little apparent demand for their services, and little motivation for providing a mentoring service free of charge?

How can we increase capacity and re-engage our highly experienced local enterprise agencies and accredited enterprise practitioners – who are qualified to provide advice – to ensure we get nearer 500,000 start ups and small firms supported each year through practical face-to-face advice and training in order to re-ignite the economy?

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6 Responses to “Two more firms to receive business support from Government”

  • Gill

    I would like to see Mark Prisk or Vince Cable or any of their colleagues attempt to set up a business in the current economic climate, with access to the levels of support presently being provided – now, there’s a challenge for them. Perhaps they would then begin to have some idea of what this recession is really about for the average SME business owner.

    Comment was posted on Wednesday, May 2, 2012 4:09 pm
  • Michael Huxley

    £15,000 of national advertising + 8 free mentoring sessions for 2 businesses. Toatl value £30,000. Total direct cost to HMG = £.00.
    Cost of TV Advert £300,000? Is the Value for money for a one day political sound bite?
    The businesses used in the advert are long- established, successful, very niche businesses. I know one of them who has achieved success through a unique idea and being very thick-skinned and bull-headed. These business owners are not like every person, they are fairly unique individuals as has all the research shown that to be a business owner you have to have a large number of rare attributes.
    THERE IS NOT A BUSINESS IN EVERYONE.
    In 23 years of business support, mainly involving new idea development (not window cleaners and odd-job businesses), meeting over 2000 people and business with what they called a “great, innovative new idea”, over 80% have not started as they realised that they did not have the necessary skills, attributes, resources or abilities that they themselves identified as being required to succeed. Of the 20% who did progress their idea further, less than 5% were successful in the market and I’d guess less than 1% created a decent new business to provide a moderate lifestyle. 99% of these great ideas were in reality “rubbish”
    I have only seen a small fraction of the local community, those with some embryo of an idea and the drive to take the first step. The vast majority of the population would never consider running their own business. I’ve recently worked with redundant public service senior managers, who were responsible for managing budgets of millions with hundreds of staff who are incapable of organising themselves when it comes to trying to start their own businesses. They succeeded by surrounding themselves with others to do the work and solve problems, when they are on their own, they fail.
    I repeat – THERE IS NOT A BUSINESS IN EVERYONE. Some (the majority) just have to work for someone else.

    Comment was posted on Tuesday, May 1, 2012 8:44 am
  • The Government has been pretty clear that their funded advisory support is for “gazelles” only (Bigger Better Business), albeit the spin ever since has tried to sell a support for all reality. The Coaching For Growth service promises much but the specification states that this face-to-face help is for just 10,000 growth businesses, using a team of private coaches. I called this scheme and was told applicants must already be close to £1 million sales to be eligible (anyone else have an experience?). For perspective, Department for Business Innovation and Skills statistics show over 90% of businesses have an average turnover less than £110,000. The Government call for 15,000 volunteer mentors to nurture a crop of four million. I see no other outcome than a mass of small businesses disengaging from business support (voluntarily or involuntarily). For those who already can, the reality is MORE support and MORE funding (£1.4 billion Enterprise Zones, £173 million Coaching for Growth), a more SELECTIVE intervention, targeting “gazelles”, or in Lord Heseltine’s words, “winners” not “losers”. For the majority…

    Comment was posted on Monday, April 30, 2012 10:17 am
  • Cee

    The goverment are going all wrong with this. In our local authority we have Sfedi qualified advisors that give free advice to start ups. We all held onto our jobs with our fingernails throughout the latest round of local goverment cuts. We also have the New Enterprise Allowance contract and despite all these trained mentors, 15000 apparently, it’s very difficult to find people actually willing to take time out of their businesses to help others especially those people on NEA some 90% who need intensive handholding to start thier business or even to put a business plan together. It seems to me that a competition that allows 2 businesses the chance to win £15k worth of advertising in wholly inadequate…2 businesses! come on….

    I can see the mentoring thing helping a bit for businesses that are up and running and who need a bit of support and advice to grow but thats all…the intensive hand holding that most people in a situation where self employment is looking like the only way currently to earn a living simply is not going to happen with volunteer mentors. Cameron, Osbourne and Prick sorry meant Prisk really need to get real and perhaps experience a day in the life of someone starting up with limited means and see how they get on with very limited support. Silly boys.

    Comment was posted on Monday, April 30, 2012 10:05 am
  • Staffs Advisor & Mentor

    1. Business support is now a lottery or competition – JUST WHAT BUSINESSES WANT
    2. Mentor relationship only works when client and Mentor have strong relationship, empathy and understanding, and you cannot just parachute anyone in to mentor a business
    3. Owner/Managers want face to face advice and not some long distance relationship, call centre or generic website
    4. Business Link had its faults but it was far superior to anything on offer presently or promised for the future
    5. Why does the Government not talk to or listen to what the businesses want rather than second guessing

    Comment was posted on Friday, April 27, 2012 4:17 pm
    • Ray

      We have just had our funding cut and our business support agency contributes in excess of 50 new sart up per annum to the local economy in liverpool. The lack of funding for what we deliver threatens our own very existence and other organisations are in the same boat.

      Despite our funding cuts we have found demand for our one to one business support services has increased significantly in recent times and people greatly value this face to face support from experts who have run their own businesses as opposed to having to research a website or have a mentor imposed on them.

      We registered for mentorsme and have undertaken mentor training and i think the government and its so called experts have got it wrong as we have had very few enquiries and those who do enquire are often from businesses who are not even on our patch!

      For effective mentor relationships people have to have mutual respect and empathy and that can only be built up over time and to make mentoring a key component in the UKs strategy to address the recession is wrong! I have witnessed first hand and heard second hand of all sorts of unsuitable people being recruited as mentors who are not capable of adding value to mentees and so these relationships will be short and brief.

      Im our opinion the government should focus on improving the quality standards for face to face advisers and invest money in that provision as the current SFEDI accreditation again seems too easy to attain which somewhat devalues it.

      Face to face support with improved quality provision is the best way to tackle the countrys need for more entrepreneurs and more growth businesses.

      Comment was posted on Sunday, April 29, 2012 9:37 am

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