27 ways to get your MP behind your business

6. Grease their palms

“We’ve written to current government on numerous occasions with very little success,” says Contact Recruitment’s Bawany. “But when we sponsored an opposition party’s event recently, I had some face-to-face time with the leader to discuss the issues facing the recruitment industry and talk about the what changes he plans to make in employment legislation.

We spent a few thousand pounds putting on the event, but it’s an investment. There’s a lot of value in talking to the parties that aren’t yet in power, but are strong opponents.”

7. Get out your little black book

“One of our directors was an adviser to President Mandela back in the early 90s,” recalls Rory Stear, chairman of the £24m-turnover company Freeplay Foundation. “So when we were opening a factory in South Africa in1995, we asked Mandela to attend and show his support.”

It helped that the factory was entirely staffed by rehabilitating criminals: “As a fellow detainee, though not exactly a criminal, he was very willing to show his support for the venture and we received a lot of media coverage as a result.”

8. A bit of diplomacy

Michael Wilks, CEO of Scyron, opened the firm’s first overseas office inFrance this September. The event was held at the British embassy, with ambassador Sir Peter Westmacott on hand to add a bit of sparkle.

“The launch didn’t cost a fantastic amount of money – less than £10,000 – and it attracted more than 100 guests,” says Wilks. “We’re a small company – 20 employees and turning over £1.5m – but we had a very successful launch in this new country.”

9. Join the club

Wilfred Emmanuel Jones, founder of The Black Farmer brand, bemoans the lack of business nous in parliament. “SMEs are woefully under-represented. There are no high-profile MPs who have a strong track record in business. Most are career politicians, cocooned from the real world.”

Nevertheless, despite a skills shortage in this area, the Conservative Party Forum can be fertile ground for entrepreneurs.

“It’s a useful club to join if you want to meet influential people and listen to entrepreneurs,” says Jones. “But beware: politicians really want you there so they can try to get your money to fund their campaigns.”

10. Take advantage of government subsidies

Graham Whitworth is the CEO of FireAngel, a smoke alarm manufacturer. The government sponsors a fire safety initiative, which pays for various UK fire brigades to supply and install smoke alarms, free of charge. “They don’t stock our products exclusively,” says Whitworth. “But when the counties of Staffordshire and West Yorkshire switched over to FireAngel products from a competitor, annual revenues increased by more than £1m.”

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