Advice from the experts - monthly events launched for local businesses
By Teddington People | Monday, May 19, 2014, 13:07
Optimism, and talk of economic recovery is very much in the air at the moment with a large part of that growth being attributed to small and medium enterprises (SMEs). In fact SMEs account for 98% of GDP in the UK and 73% of all businesses are run by one person.
Zac Goldsmith speaking at last Friday's Growth Accelerator event in Richmond.
Mayor of Richmond, Cllr Meena Bond, attended the conference alongside 168 business owners.
Business Secretary and Twickenham MP Vincent Cable also spoke at the event last week.
It is within this context the Government has launched its Growth Accelerator service led by some of the country's most successful growth specialists. The programme aims to help start-ups and businesses looking for growth to develop new connections, new routes to investment and new ideas to develop their full potential.
Locally, the service launched its first all day event last Friday in Richmond in conjunction with StartUp Richmond, PayPal and business expansion strategists CPG. StartUp Richmond was inspired by StartUp Britain, a national campaign to help pre-start, start-up and SME businesses grow.
Founder, and successful entrepreneur in her own right, Helen Roberts explains: "Our aim is to inspire, energise and assist local people wanting to start a business and help existing businesses grow in any way we can. It's about building more business for the local community and across the UK."
With 50% of small businesses folding in their first year of operating this support is becoming increasingly important if the recovery is to be sustained. Long-time supporter of StartUp Richmond and local MP Zac Goldsmith, speaking at the event, noted: “If we want a balanced and sustainable recovery, small and medium sized companies could not be more important. We had a record number of new start-ups in 2013, and I am delighted to be supporting Start up Richmond again this year.”
Also speaking at the event was Business Secretary and Twickenham MP Vincent Cable who said: "There is a very serious recovery happening in the UK. It is happening and it is real and it is largely being driven by SME businesses and start-ups. The Growth Accelerator shows the Government’s commitment to helping small and medium sized business develop. It has already been recognised across the country as a really valuable intervention. On a personal note, it is great to see events like this locally where businesses collaborate in exchanging information and skills. It is also terrific to see high street names support smaller enterprise.”
The events themselves are a mixture. Part motivational, part networking and part resource for burning questions owners might have about barriers to growth, any business can attend. Helen Roberts continues: "There has never been a better time to start up your own business in the UK than now. But it's never been so competitive with over a billion businesses online now."
As well as the events, StartUp Richmond provides access to coaches and advice on setting up and developing businesses at all stages from pre-start through to growing SMEs who have made it through the first two years and now want to expand. There is also a strong emphasis on developing strong local networks with businesses supporting each other when they can, to help each other grow.
Helen Roberts sums it up: "We aren't a membership organisation. Anyone can approach us for access to coaching and advice or to attend our monthly events. The events are very interactive and they ease the path towards networking so that everyone gets to meet a good cross section of the people that attend. Attendees can really use these sessions to work their way around the room asking questions and gaining advice from the experts."
StartUp Richmond has helped 4,400 businesses since it began three years ago. You can find out more about events and resources here.