27 ways to get your MP behind your business

16. Free advertising

“The government sponsors fire safety week every year, with campaigns running in print, radio and television,” says Whitworth, CEO of Coventry-based FireAngel. “We always see a dramatic uplift in sales during that week, usually between 200 and 300 per cent.”

17. Bring out the big guns

In September, John Hutton and Stephen Timms travelled around the country, meeting top entrepreneurs to pick their brains about what government can do to help small businesses.

Described as a “nothing off-limits” review of government policy, the likes of Karan Bilimoria, Saul Klein and Jonathan Straight have all had their tuppence-worth.

The aim? To find out where public policy is supportive of small business and where it’s not, and ultimately draft new legislation to lighten the load for SMEs. 

18. Safety in numbers

Sometimes it helps to consort with the enemy. In Michael Wilks’s previous incarnation as a public affairs director for Symbol Technologies, he had to swallow his pride and join up with his competitors to bring in the business.

“We were trying to win a security and surveillance contract with the European Union,” says Wilks. “Rather than promote our own company, we joined a consortium of businesses, taking our technology to organisations such as Interpol as part of the package. It was much easier for the politicians to support a number of companies rather than just one.”

19. Join a forum

Dawn Gibbins, founder of Flowcrete, a £36m-turnover floor manufacturer, is the national representative for SMEs in the Manufacturing Forum.

Previous chairs include Jackie Smith MP and Alun Michael MP, with Stephen Timms MP currently in situ. Gibbins applauds their dedication to the industry: “The ministers always put forward proposals for extra funding of the Manufacturing Advisory Service to the treasury.”

20. It’s all about trust

When DEFRA approached Mike Lawton, founder of Regenatec, to convert a fishing boat so that it could run on biofuel as a world-first, he was over the moon. “Everyone’s heard of DEFRA. To engage with them gave us a huge leap in credibility.”

Regenatec completed the £500,000 project in 2004 and the boat is currently sailing the North Sea. “A ship is not like a car or a train. If it stops working, it sinks. That DEFRA trusted our technology with such a high-risk craft shows the public how reliable our conversion process is.”

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