The event, which takes place in the House of Commons, follows Forum research showing that, despite tough trading conditions, many entrepreneurs are confident about their prospects for 2012.
In all, 55% of supporters of the Forum's Get Britain Trading 2012 campaign, which is being launched today, anticipate growth or strong growth in the coming year – and 95% are already exploring ways of developing their businesses.
Further, 60% of respondents said they hope to innovate in 2012 and, while 74% of small firms are looking to target customers in the UK, 17% are focusing on overseas markets. The Government's UK Export Finance is supporting SMEs by introducing a range of financial support for businesses that want to export but struggle to obtain the finance they need through the normal commercial routes.
Mr Prisk joins the Forum's Chief Executive, Phil Orford, in addressing business owners from a range of industries on the massive contribution small firms make to the UK's economy, as well as recognising the barriers to growth they face.
In turn, delegates are being given the opportunity to speak at the event in order to share their achievements and pass on the secrets of their success.
"As a leading membership organisation representing SMEs we are in the business of helping firms to succeed, creating economic growth for the whole country. That is our passion and our responsibility and it is a goal shared by the Government – so I am delighted to welcome the Business Minister Mark Prisk and pleased he is backing what we are trying to do to Get Britain Trading," said Mr Orford.
"Economic conditions are tough but we know first hand that there are many, many success stories of business owners who have achieved great things against the odds, as well as numerous opportunities for growth.
"While we know there is a lot to do to help entrepreneurs, we want to share this good news and do all we can to help small businesses take advantage of every opportunity available to them, and make the most of the considerable confidence our research shows is out there."
Business and Enterprise Minister Mark Prisk said:
"It's great to see that the majority of business people in the UK want to innovate, grow and become a success story both here and abroad. We want to make the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a business which is why we've launched a range of schemes to make sure that we give SMEs the best possible opportunity to succeed.
"An enhanced Business Link website gives entrepreneurs a single place to find the help and advice they need to develop their business idea and thousands of business mentors are being trained up through the Get Mentoring initiative.
"Intensive and quality coaching is being made available for high growth potential businesses to help them grow and we want to ensure that viable businesses can access the finance they need at an affordable rate. Businesses can find more information about support available for them through the new Business In You campaign, which aims to encourage entrepreneurs to realise their business potential, to go for it and make 2012 the year of enterprise."
‘Business Population Estimates' data from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) shows that there were 4.5 million private sector enterprises in the UK at the start of 2011 and that 99.2% of businesses in the UK are classified as small (0 to 49 employees). The figures also show that small businesses account for 46.2% of private sector employment and 24.9% of annual turnover.
The Forum's Get Britain Trading survey also suggests that, while businesses are seeing opportunities for growth, 58% have been unable or unwilling to take advantage of them. Just 13% believe there will be any growth opportunities in the public sector.
Despite their positivity, many firms still face numerous obstacles to growth. For example, with mounting business costs a major issue, 29% of respondents to the Forum's survey are seeking to cut costs further – but this is a fall compared to previous research. The Get Britain Trading campaign aims to identify and address such barriers.
Survey respondents provided information on a range of issues, including tax, red tape, finance and employment. For the full survey results visit www.fpb.org/gbtreport
During the summer of 2011, in an initiative backed by Mr Prisk, the Forum placed approximately 100 MPs, MSPs and Members of the Welsh Assembly on ‘Business Buddy' visits to small firms in their constituencies, where they learned about the realities of running a business. There are plans to run the scheme again in 2012.
In addition, the Forum is keeping MPs updated via a new monthly e-newsletter containing small business success stories and is committed to promoting any initiatives aimed at supporting small firms. MPs will be able to submit stories from their constituencies for the e-newsletter.
The Forum is urging all business owners to join Get Britain Trading by visiting the new campaign website www.getbritaintrading.co.uk. The not-for-profit employer organisation is calling on all supporters to pass on their success stories and share their growth secrets with other small businesses. For more information call the Forum on 0845 130 1722.
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