Visiting DIY Kyoto Ltd in Bethnal Green on Monday was a great experience and a real eye-opener. The day reminded me of the practical realities that small businesses face every day.
DIY Kyoto designs wattson, a wireless electricity meter that monitors electricity usage in the home by the minute. The company was founded in 2005 by Greta Corke, Richard Woods and Jon Sawdon Smith, and it was set up to encourage and assist people in considering the amount of energy they consume on an everyday basis.
The team of six at DIY Kyoto not only design and devise their product, but do their own market research, organise finance and manage personnel and health and safety issues. They have also successfully developed their export market which now represents over half their sales. This takes dedication, commitment and skill, and I know there are small businesses up and down the country displaying similar passion and expertise. My day at DIY Kyoto reminded me that people working in small businesses have to multitask and be flexible. Time is money.
The team were concerned about the level of regulation they face, and they explained the way in which this ties up productive time, restricting their ability to do the rest of the job. This is, of course, a serious issue. The volume and complexity of regulation can damage small businesses and UK competitiveness as a whole.
The government has announced that it will reduce regulatory costs by introducing a rigorous system of regulatory control. This is an important first step in showing how serious we view the regulation agenda and how we have to transform the culture of Whitehall. More details on this will be published shortly [Editor: Real Business will cover this in detail.] Businesses like DIY Kyoto need to spend less time dealing with regulation, and more time running their business.
DIY Kyoto also explained why businesses need support with employment relations and exporting. We discussed the strengths and weaknesses of the current system, and it was a great opportunity for me to hear the concerns and thoughts of a thriving small business.
Working in a government department can make it easy to forget the flexibility you need in running a very small business as events change by the minute. I was really impressed by the care and thought that goes into the work of Jon, Richard and Greta, all of whom have lived and breathed this business for over five years.
From just one day with an SME I have gained a better understanding about the regulations we need to cut and the ways in which we provide the right long-term framework that small businesses need.
My day with DIY Kyoto was an excellent introduction to my ‘Week in Small Business’, and I am now very much looking forward to my next instalment of work experience.
Mark Prisk MP is Minister of State for Business and Enterprise in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. He will be exclusively and regularly blogging about his week in enterprise right here on RealBusiness.co.uk.