“For a sector that employs more than 13m people and generates £500bn for the British economy, [the needs of small businesses] are under-represented to government,” Emma Jones, founder of Enterprise Nation, commented on recent research that revealed a surprising lack of support for UK SMEs.The survey, conducted by Enterprise Nation reported that three quarters of small and micro business are not affiliated to any professional or trade organisation. Out of 1,200 businesses polled, only nine per cent were members of their local British Chamber of Commerce or Federation of Small Businesses. Why so few? Some 64 per cent of respondents were put off joining membership bodies because they felt they’re too expensive, 40 per cent said they couldn’t see the benefits of membership to their business – and 18 per cent said they felt existing bodies didn’t represent their kind of business. Enterprise Nation claim that traditional bodies have not done enough to adapt to the changing business landscape. Emma Jones said: “The start-up culture in Britain has been dramatically transformed. Technology has lead to the rapid democratisation of opportunity and record numbers of people starting a business.” Around 97 per cent of businesses are classed as “small” in the UK. Last year, more than 484,000 people started a business. These businesses are starting from home (some 77 per cent of them still operate from home), embracing technology, and going global at speed. “They are independent individuals emerging in the modern economy as a significant economic and social force. They need a new kind of representation that offers commercial benefit, enhanced profile and a place to air their views,” says Jones. What businesses want are networking opportunities and a sense of community, but also information, advice and training designed specifically for their type of business. One respondent said: “I was a member of a business group but the value did not seem that good versus the cost and time, and the groups didn’t align well with me. Many were focused on a small geographic area and traditional, old fashioned, business methods and practices.” Enterprise Nation themselves responded with the launch of a new kind of business membership after developing its own links at the heart of government.
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