The opportunity for small business is anything but small


The very nature of politics is that it gets people talking and often divides opinion – no doubt there will be a mixed response to Chancellor George Osborne’s Autumn Statement today. However, what is clear to me, and I would argue indisputable, is the vital role that small businesses play within our nation, in fact the Chancellor today referred to them as, ‘the lifeblood of our economy’. It is encouraging to see that the government, whichever party may be in power, are recognising this and putting measures in place to help smooth what can be a very challenging and bumpy road for small businesses. 

This is not the first time in recent weeks that I have come across Chancellor Osborne’s views on small businesses, I recently attended the Asian Trader magazine awards where he was a guest speaker. As a PR professional, it was fascinating for me to watch his delivery, to see what techniques he used to win over the room.  The overriding take-outs I observed were the way the speech was so carefully geared towards his target audience, the Asian retailing community, and the way that he reiterated certain key points that he felt would resonate with the phrases, ‘we are pro family and pro hard work’ and, ‘we make difficult decisions on public finances’, littered throughout his speech. He highlighted that Asian businesses contribute 10% to the entire GDP and that this is thanks to hard work and sacrifice, flattery in its purest form, and then the reminder of further cuts to corporation tax in April 2015 was met with a resounding cheer from the audience.

Working in Trade PR in the food and drink sector, I am seeing small businesses all the time in the form of independent retailers and I know the challenges they face but I have also seen some astounding levels of innovation and entrepreneurialism. With the government recognising how important these businesses are to the economy, there really is an awful lot to play for if independent retailers can get their proposition right. They have the benefit of being able to tailor and adapt their range for their customers and they are local, an advantage not to be sniffed at, particularly as we are seeing an increase in convenient, ‘top-up’ shops.

We’ve all witnessed the furore that surrounded Black Friday last week and Small Business Saturday is coming up this week, an initiative that ‘exists to support, inspire and promote small businesses on the 6th December and beyond’ – last year over £460 million was spent in small businesses on the day. Events like this, and the obvious occasions like Christmas and Easter, present excellent opportunities for independent retailers to cash in and it would seem many manufacturers would agree, with a recent poll of suppliers by Off Licence News magazine showing that independents are the best prospect for the spirits market and have the most potential for the coming year.

Yes it’s tough out there, particularly for small businesses, but it’s when times are tough that we see some of the most impressive results and as Chancellor Osborne put it, these are the people driving jobs and creating success. 

Suzanne Surridge 

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