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A new report published by insurance and pension provider Standard Life has revealed the key drivers of success for UK SMEs over the next five years. Having polled both SME leaders and employees, the report highlights the fundamental trends of collaboration, empowerment and adaptability as central to growth

SME leaders said the number one priority is to empower the workforce, by building an environment that encourages creativity and innovation.

Employees agreed, stating that the most desirable quality in a business leader is the ability to empower and trust their colleagues.

The report also found that the traditional five-year business planning cycle is largely a thing of the past, with 82 per cent of SME leaders altering their strategy at least once a year and almost three fifths doing so at least every six months.

Meanwhile, 60 per cent of employees felt ‘adaptability’ is the most important attribute for professional success.

Stephen Ingledew, Standard Life Managing Director of Marketing, said: “SMEs are an important part of our client base, and we wanted to take a closer look at the behaviours these business leaders and their employees adopt to achieve success and fuel entrepreneurship.

“Our research shows that UK SMEs are strongly committed to building working environments that encourage and nurture flexibility and innovation.”

The report stated that business leaders believed that the most productive workforce can be achieved by offering employees flexible working conditions (41 per cent) and by investing in future potential (40 per cent), with training/upskilling the number one focus in the next half a decade.

Indeed, at McPhersons, our staff values our flexible working conditions. In fact, some cite this as the main reason they came to us. The work life balance is a key factor to consider and at McPhersons, staff are able to plan their working day around childcare, dog-walking, socialising and other interests.

With employees at every level of qualification and some with us for over 40 years, we understand that development and support with study and qualification are vital as well as necessary for staff retention.

The majority (69 per cent) of leaders also believe the role of CEO/MD will become more diverse and accessible to their workforce in the future, it is a position that is still seen as out of reach by many employees, with 56 per cent expecting promotion to CEO to become far more challenging over the next five years.

Stephen Ingledew added: “SMEs are generally very outward-looking and focused on retaining strong core values which help them attract and retain the best talent.

“The research indicates that they regard positive contributions to society as an important measure of success, and that they carefully consider how their decisions impact their broader industry, their people and their communities.”

Need more help?

This feature aims  to give some informal hints and McPhersons are offering small businesses free advice so get in touch now to arrange your free meeting on 01424 730000 or info@mcphersons.co.uk

The Let’s Do Business Group is the leading social enterprise in the country for finance according to the NatWest Social Enterprise 100 Index.

In addition to topping the Index within the finance sector, the Let’s Do Business Group (LDBG) feature third across the South East region and fourth overall out of more than 800 social enterprises.

Let’s do Business have helped start-ups and established businesses to grow and prosper throughout the South East of England for more than 20 years.natwest se100

Its finance arm, Let’s Do Business Finance (LDBF) offers an alternative source of commercial funding to companies that are unable to source the capital they need from high street lenders.

In the last financial year, LDBF lent more than £700,000 to SMEs in the South East, a marked increase compared to the £238,000 lent the previous year, representing almost an increase in growth of almost 70%.

This is in addition to the £1 million the Group has lent to start-up ventures in the past four months throughout the South of England.

Ian Smallwood Head of Services at LDBF said, “We are delighted to be number one within the finance sector in the NatWest SE Index. Not only have we grown considerably in the past couple of years, but we have been able to almost triple the number of businesses we can help.

“This is a great achievement for our team, but importantly these businesses are now able to grow and thrive, creating more jobs and further strengthen the economy in the South East.”

The team at LDBF offers loans of between £3,000 and £50,000 to companies looking to scale-up their operations, with start-up finance available up to £25,000.

The SE 100 Index tracks data from social enterprises across the UK, offering an insight into their performance.


Over the next two years, UK small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are planning to increase investment into their digital capabilities by £53 billion and will prioritise their websites over mobile technologies, according to new research from Santander Corporate and Commercial.

According to the survey, the average firm has committed £33,212 to digital investment over the past year and plans are underway to increase this figure by £28,224.

Stephen Dury, the managing director of SME Markets & Business Development and Santander Corporate & Commercial said: “Investment in digital capabilities can significantly enhance business growth opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses.”

Despite this, firms are hoping to invest further with 8% of the companies that took part in the survey estimated that in the last year they have spent over £100,000 on digital capabilities. 6% plan to increase investment by over £100,000 in the future.

The financial services and IT sectors have spent the most and this is expected to continue in the coming years. On average, IT companies invested £46,429 in the last year whereas the financial services each invested £49,500.

Within two years, IT firms predict that they will increase this by £43,962 whilst financial services companies expect to spend £42,083 more.

“Just having a functional website can have a dramatic impact on a firm’s visibility and connectivity with customers and other stakeholders,” said the managing director. “While it is great to see that many firms are focused on this, the concern is that a significant number are still failing to invest effectively and are therefore missing out on these opportunities.”

In terms of regional numbers, London is up top and is set to invest the most at £42,925, which is ahead of businesses in the Midlands who are in second place at £31,531. Compared with this, businesses in the South West are, so research suggests, looking to invest a much lower amount of £19,500.

Although mobile technologies is constantly growing, traditional websites are still the main priority for SME owners with nearly 56% of firms saying their websites make their businesses more successful, research says. 16% of SMEs have said that they do not have a website while 34% can accept payments online. Only 13% host a foreign-language version of their website.

“Santander is committed to helping UK businesses prosper. As a scale challenger, we are bringing much-needed competition to the banking market with what we believe is a unique approach to UK businesses,” said Stephen Dury.

Around 54% of firms that are investing in digital capabilities are looking to develop their websites compared with just 16% who are launching digital apps. An additional 13% plan to develop online payment facilities with 10% launching websites for the first time, and 10% planning to access new markets by launching foreign language versions of their website.

At the core of its proposition, Santander Corporate & Commercial has put market-leading digital functionalities and services for its SME clients. The business offers the Trade Portal; a data-rich online platform that allows them to research global markets and this will help businesses trade internationally. To add to this, they will also be able to access the Trade Club which is a network of five million SMEs based all over the globe that bank with Santander.

“Our success is evidence by four years of double digit growth in lending and support to UK companies,” said Stephen Dury. “We also continue to invest in technology, digital, product and customer service improvements which underscores our desire to be the bank of choice for UK SMEs.”

Tracey Kane from Hastings based FundingBusiness lets us know what the options are for SME’s when it come to funding. Read on to see what the options are.

It is such a satisfying achievement to run your own business, but in order to succeed and promote growth within your organisation you may need to seek additional funding.

Managing the finances associated with your business is both hugely important and can be incredibly difficult to manage and many SMEs have felt the pinch after suffering rejection from their high street lender due to the economic downturn, however it shouldn’t hold you back as you might be unaware that there are alternative finance solutions and support available in the financial market.money-up

It is a healthy exercise to regularly review the funding facilities of the business and the opportunities currently available. To promote growth and expansion businesses should also look at tailoring their funding requirements to their needs which may be the acquisition of bespoke machinery or restructuring the business.

Almost all small businesses require an injection of cash at some time in their trading life, sometimes at very short notice or as part of a long term plan. The key is to find a facility that works for your business and ultimately making an informed choice to promote success.

Potential Finance Options

  • Asset Finance
  • Business Angel Investment
  • Cash Flow Finance
  • Commercial Mortgages & Buy to Lets
  • Equity Finance
  • Invoice Discounting/Factoring – Raising Money from trade sales
  • Leasehold Loans
  • Secured & Unsecured Business Loans
  • PDQ Loans – Raising Money against sales to the general public

There are many factors a business need to take into account when considering its options, including its size and turnover.

The key is to identify lenders who can provide the necessary funds that your business requires and enter into agreements which fully serve the needs of the business.

On average it can take almost a day to make a single application for a business loan.  SME’s can take back control of their finances and save valuable time by talking to Commercial Finance Experts. You might find finance options available to you that you were not aware of.

If you are looking for more insight into the finance options for SME’s then checkout FundingBusiness on our B2B directory here.


Posted by: In: Charity, Local, New Business 17 Sep 2014 Comments: 0 Tags: , ,

Urban Hair and Retreat Beauty Rooms based in London Road, St. Leonards on Sea will be holding their official Launch Event on Sunday 28th and Monday 29th September.

The salon was one of many small companies that have been helped by the Let’s Do Business group in obtaining a grant from the European Business fund which was awarded back in June.  The grant went towards the refurbishment, furniture and capital equipment and it was awarded on the basis that it secured full time work.  Additionally the grant has allowed them to transform the salon into a beautiful environment for both customers and staff.  Without the grant this would not have been possible.

To celebrate the launch, the salon will be providing a range of beauty and hair treatments on Sunday 28th and Monday 29th September in aid of raising money for St. Michaels Hospice.  There is also a raffle with plenty of prizes to be won from local businesses.

For more information visit their website here or check out the flyer below.



Posted by: In: Local, SME, Uncategorized 29 Oct 2013 Comments: 0 Tags: ,

Amber Rudd, Hastings and Rye MP, is asking people to nominate their favourite small business. A list of these nominated businesses will be compiled ahead of Small Business Saturday, on 7th December, which will be celebrate the work done by small firms across the UK and thank everyone who is creating jobs, taking risks and driving Britain’s recovery.


Get voting for your favourite small business at www.yourfavouritesmallbusiness.com

The campaign is being backed by Prime Minister David Cameron who said: “Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy, providing nearly half of all private sector jobs. Since 2010 we’ve seen over 300,000 of them start up.”

We want to get behind all of our entrepreneurs so, if you know of any great business in your area, let them know.

Nominations can be made at yourfavouritesmallbusiness.com.

Local businessman, mentor and author Richard Eaton has launched a brand new book aimed at those who are planning on going in to business.

Richard Eaton’s aptly titled ‘Getting Ready To Start A Business’ published by St leonards-on-sea based Touchworks Ltd is available right now as an ebook on Amazon and is only £2.83.

‘The compact book of mentoring suggestions refers to more than 60 website links. The book is aimed at prospective entrepreneurs who are preparing to start their own business and provides assistance with defining and promoting a business proposal.

To find out more and to read excerpts and reviews about Getting Ready To Start A Business, please visit its Amazon listing here.

getting ready to start a business richard eaton

Getting Ready To Start A Business by local author Richard Eaton

Posted by: In: Business Finance, Funding, News, SME 05 Aug 2013 Comments: 0 Tags: , , ,

Got a great business project that could make Europe greener but don’t know how to get it off the ground? The information for the Eco-Innovation funding available to SME’s is taken directly off the EU Commission site. Read on for everything you need to know with links and downloads.

The European Commission grants up to 50% co-funding to finance green ideas: the total budget available for the 2013 Call is almost 31.6 Million Euros.

Calls are open to all legal persons…


Eco-Innovation funding is available until the 5th September 2013

This call is open to all legal persons that are based in eligible countries but the priority will be given to Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). Clusters of applicants and projects which demonstrate a European added value and have a high potential for market replication are strongly encouraged.


Although priority will be given to SMEs* and private beneficiaries, the calls for proposals are open to all legal persons located in one of the following countries:

  • 27 EU member states
  • Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein
  • Albania, Croatia, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Israel, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey
  • Other non-EU countries provided they have the appropriate agreement in force (currently none).

Also see Article 4 of the CIP legal base.

* SMEs are defined as enterprises which employ fewer than 250 persons and which have an annual turnover not exceeding €50 million, or an annual balance sheet not exceeding €43 million.

What will be funded?

Calls support Eco-innovative projects in different sectors which aim at the prevention or reduction of environmental impacts or which contribute to the optimal use of resources. However, more specific priorities are being set up considering their important environmental impact and policy priorities of the European Union:

  • Materials Recycling
  • Sustainable Building Products
  • Food and Drink Sector
  • Water
  • Greening businesses

Submission of your proposal is only possible on-line.

Results of previous calls are also available. Check them out to find out more about the projects that received funding under these calls for proposals:

Call for proposals – “Network of Eco-innovation Financiers”

Please be informed of another call for proposals in the framework of the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) 2007–2013, a call on a “Network of Eco-innovation Financiers“. Finance available totals 2 million euros. The maximum EU-funding rate is 95% of the eligible costs of the action. The deadline for applications is Monday, 23 September 2013 at 17:00 Brussels Local Time (CET).

Boosting access of eco-innovative companies to finance motivates this call.

Specifically, the call seeks to expand available private and public sources of funding over the long term, in a sustainable manner. In particular, it pursues the objective that eco-innovative companies take full advantage of European demand-led innovation financing opportunities. Finally, it targets improving deal flow and increasing its quality, for the benefit of entrepreneurs and investors.

Proposals should include as many of the following activities as possible:

  • establishing an EU-wide network and community of public and private financiers and investors that support eco-innovation;
  • organizing networking conferences;
  • setting up a web matchmaking platform;
  • informing eco-innovative companies of financing opportunities;
  • coaching eco-innovative companies to make them investor ready.

For more information on the Call and how to submit a proposal, please see:http://ec.europa.eu/environment/funding/ecoinnovation_13.htm.
For possible queries, please get in contact with: ENV-ECOAP@ec.europa.eu.

The Call CIP-EIP-ECO-INNOVATION-2013 will close on 05 September 2013 at 17:00:00, Brussels local time. Proposals received after this deadline will not be evaluated.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is raising awareness of its Enterprise Finance Guarentee for SME’s. If your business has sufficient cashflow but has been refused a business loan due to a lack of security to put up against the loan then this will make for interesting reading. Here’s the low-down on the facts regarding the EFG.

Enterprise Finance Guarantee

The Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG) is a Government loan guarantee scheme to enable lending to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) which can demonstrate that they have sufficient cash-flow to meet lenders loan affordability requirements, but are lacking adequate security to obtain a commercial bank loan.

Since EFG was launched in January 2009, more than 20,000 SMEs have been offered loans, generating more than £2bn worth of additional lending. There is currently £500m of funding available.

All of the main high street banks plus a number of other lending institutions offer EFG loans, which are provided with the support of a Government guarantee. They provide businesses with funding that they might not otherwise have had access to, and can be used in a variety of ways – from employing and retaining staff to investing in new equipment or work space. It can also be used to help fund day-to-day running costs.

Businesses from almost every sector can apply, and past recipients of EFG funding range from digital design agencies to construction firms and furniture manufacturers.

EFG is principally used to support loans of between £1,000 and £1 million, and repayment terms between three months and 10 years. EFG also supports overdrafts and invoice finance facilities, which have shorter repayment terms of two years and three years respectively.

 How it works and who can apply

All EFG loans are provided by the participating lenders using their own funds. The Government provides the lender with a 75% guarantee for each loan, but the borrower remains liable for repayment of 100% of the loan.

EFG loans are available to a wide variety of businesses. However, the following criteria applies:

  • The business must have an annual turnover of less than £41m, but there is no limit on the number of employees.
  • The business activity being financed must take place in the UK, although the SME itself might be foreign owned or registered abroad.
  • The borrower contributes to the cost of the scheme by paying a 2% per annum premium which is in addition to the fees and charges applied by the lender.
 How to apply

A business will always apply for a commercial loan before EFG is considered. If a business meets the lenders’ loan affordability requirements, and would have been offered a traditional bank business loan if they had adequate security, then EFG is worth considering. Businesses should ask about EFG during their loan application. The full list of EFG lenders can be found here.

EFG loans have already helped over 20,000 businesses gain access to essential funding – you could be next!

When does it need to be paid back?

EFG loans have repayment terms between 3 months and 10 years. Lenders follow their standard commercial lending practice, meaning the majority of EFG loans will be repaid on a monthly basis. Lenders have the flexibility to offer capital repayment holidays and bullet repayments (where the business pays back the loan in a lump sum at the end of the term) if they so desire.

Other finance options

If your business is not eligible for the Enterprise Finance Guarantee, or your loan application was unsuccessful, there are a range of other finance options available for small to medium sized businesses. More details can be found at www.greatbusiness.gov.uk/financing-a-business