Small business celebrated at CBI conference

Tuesday 30 December 2014

A number of small businesses and the characteristics of such firms were applauded at the recent annual conference for the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

A recent Event Focus from The Business Voice followed some of the events of the conference. Among the points that were covered was the praise for small businesses and the outlining of areas where they could be supported further.

Leaders from the three main political parties were a few of the guests that took to the stage at the CBI Annual Conference. They aimed to gain support from businesses in their speeches due to the fact that the general election is coming up in May 2015. Indeed, limited companies, sole traders, contractors and others will be keeping an eye on movements and promises from political parties as they make decisions on who to vote for.

However, the event wasn't entirely political. As well as looking at what politicians could do to improve the economy and prospects for employees and firms, there was also talk about what businesses could do.

For example, Archbishop of York John Sentamu started a session on living standards and urged all businesses to pay the living wage.

In response to the claim from some businesses that they cannot pay the living wage, Mr Sentamu argued that 53 per cent of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) already do so and that they had seen benefits emerge from doing so. He asked business brains in the room to work together to come up with a solution.

Not only that, Mr Sentamu said that the government could encourage more firms to pay the living wage by simplifying the tax systems and reducing the costs associated with doing business.

During the event, there was also a section on the Better Off Britain report from CBI, which contained some requests to the government that could help small businesses. Among these was a suggestion to simplify the support available to SMEs so that take-up would be improved and therefore productivity potential could be enhanced.

In terms of help needed from other businesses, Adnams chief executive Andy Wood said that companies had a responsibility to share best practice with smaller firms in their supply chains.

During the afternoon, there was a focus on encouraging exports and there was a point about how local businesses could take advantage of clustering. Chief executive of Pinewood Shepperton Ian Dunleavy explained how, around Pinewood studios, there were a number of related small businesses.

Additionally, companies that had started out as small businesses and gained success overseas were praised for making a difference to the UK economy. Sharing their experience on how they found success, there were a series of short interviews from Fever-Tree, Pentland Brands, Extremis Technology, Hotel Chocolat and Miller International.

Reasons why these businesses were able to gain success included such ambitions as gaining popularity abroad right from start-up. This was the case at Hotel Chocolat and Extremis Technology.

By Victoria McDonnell

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