The December document, Small Business and Government – The Way Forward, defined seven ‘strategic themes’ for future policy and it is these issues that are addressed by the SBS’ newly published Business Plan 2003.
One of the main aims of this plan is to improve the Business Link network. Although the Government’s business advice service assisted more than 300,000 firms in 2002, this figure is believed to represent just 14 per cent of the potential market.
Over the next 12 months, the SBS hopes to ‘drive-up’ both the market penetration and customer satisfaction levels associated with Business Link. To this end, it is planning to trial three regional development agencies (in the North West, West Midlands and East Midlands) the hope being that this will enable advisers to spend more of their time on helping entrepreneurs and less on administration.
Other initiatives for the current year included the establishment of a single web portal for all government-operated small business services and the identification of new ways of ensuring that firms, particularly those launched in disadvantaged areas, have access to the funds they require.
Launching his organisation’s 2003 Business Plan, SBS chief executive Martin Wyn Griffith commented “small firms make up 99 per cent of Britain’s business community. The plan shows how we will focus our work on areas where government can make a real difference, helping them improve their business performance and driving up the UK’s productivity and competitiveness”.
Also see: Ten essential small business links