S L L E W E G D I R B N TU S S E N I S IN BU
7+($*(1'$ Here’s a couple of questions: Will small business and start ups form the backbone of recovery? Which begs the other question: Are we deﬁnitely going into recovery? Adverse weather hitting seasonal purchasing, VAT rises and “unknown unknowns” could easily see us marking time. Whatever happens we will continue to live in interesting times. Who, though, will make the break for us locally? Pledged support from the banks and government is unlikely to provide the major stimulus and the old bugbear of ‘be safe do nothing’ is likely to hinder chances of a speedy bounce back. However, there’s a lot to be celebrated in our region by comparison with others. We have not been spoilt by the previous government and have maintained an independent ‘can do’ attitude which will stand us in good stead to recover faster than others. But can that weight be taken up by SME activity alone? Not in all sectors but certainly in some. Technology start ups have been seen to buck the trend although a good idea alone is not enough to give up the day job. The time needed to develop a concept to a realistic enterprise has grown as the banking and professional sectors have become more cautious. Businesses that have found new routes to market have also done well and we have seen a revolution in how recruitment can function in the digital age. Let’s be honest, the recovery will not be driven by the £2,000 grant for unemployed people to start their own businesses, which is unlikely to have much impact in West Kent where the blight of long term unemployment is relatively unusual. The Federation of Small Business has lobbied for better incentives and help for the SMEs they represent and there are around 4.8 million of them in the UK. Locally what differences can be made? Could councils give holiday periods to new business with regard to rates and rents? Could they improve the ability for ﬁrms to do business? It is sometimes easier (cheaper) and faster to get to London from Sevenoaks or Tonbridge than into Tunbridge Wells. How much is the congestion really costing us as businesses? What can established businesses do to help grow the sector that we all depend on in some way? New business is exciting in its very nature, but that means that established businesses will have to rediscover what risk is all about too. Let’s hope we can all enjoy the rewards of a well supported innovative new business sector. If we all help just a little we can expect a faster recovery than the rest of England.
Guest Editor of the Business Section is Mark Rosser, Senior Partner at Warners Solicitors
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