Telling the truth about SME life today

Daisy founder: “Pick up the phone, Lord Mandelson!”

Riley, who floated Daisy Group on the AIM market in June, is confident that he could teach ministers a thing or two about the highs and lows of business in today’s economic climate.

The Lancashire-born entrepreneur is angry that he has had no government support in growing what is now a multi-million pound organisation, and no interest shown from his local MP to date.

“I started Daisy from the garage at my home and grew it both organically and strategically over eight years," he says. “Pendle, where we’re based, has seen many of its traditional manufacturing firms close down in recent years and the bigger firms such as Rolls Royce have been scaling down their workforces.

“We currently employ 280 staff from the local area and are looking to recruit 150 more in the New Year.

“While you would expect such expansion in tough economic times to be celebrated, our local MP Gordon Prentice has never asked to visit us and see what we’re all about and we have never had any offers of any government support or advice.

“Lord Sugar was slated in the press for his comments about small business ‘moaners’, but he was talking about those who were asking for help when their businesses were already going down the drain.

“I have enjoyed success without government support and will continue to do so, but I think Lord Sugar and Lord Mandelson could learn a lot from the setbacks and frustrations Daisy has endured along the way and perhaps this, in turn will help other ambitious entrepreneurs in the future.”

Lord Mandelson recently spoke to the Said Business School about his plans for “the enterprise-led” recovery of the economy, in which he said that jobs and growth would be created by private enterprise and private investment. “I agree that the government needs to play an instrumental part in the recovery of the economy but it needs to speak to people like myself to understand just what SMEs need, not only to pull through but to succeed," continues Riley. “For example, Lord Mandelson is keen to push higher and further education but he needs to appreciate that this path will not suit everyone. I was never interested in school and couldn’t wait to get out to work so, at 16, I opted for a YTS scheme instead of the traditional college and university route.

“While I appreciate that my preferred path isn’t for everyone, Lord Mandelson needs to understand that talent comes in many forms and doesn’t always come hand in hand with a diploma.”

“Look at the likes of Lord Alan and my mentor Sir Philip Green. They are two of the most powerful magnates in the UK and neither of them opted for the traditional schooling route.”

Accessing finance is also a bug-bear for Riley who wasn’t even eligible for an overdraft until four years ago. Legislation is another gripe: “It seems that anyone enjoying success without government or support-agency intervention is ignored when we should, in fact, be celebrated, applauded and used as a good example to others sharing our entrepreneurial vision.

“When the government starts to speak to real people who have enjoyed the highs and suffered the lows of business, they can truly begin to offer real assistance to the thousands of UK SMEs. So, Lord Mandelson and Lord Sugar, I await your call.”

Related articles:Matthew Riley: My Masterclass from a TopmanMatthew Riley: SMEs need more help, not more paperwork


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