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The tectonic plates of small business funding are shifting - and that's not a bad thing

Date 11th February 2016 //
Author Paul Mildenstein, CEO, Liberis
Soil, Ground
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Undoubtedly, the funding of the SME sector is at best widely misunderstood, misrepresented and yet hugely vital to the UK's economic growth, reinvigoration, local employment and, most of all, community survival. If you fail to support this foundation of society then the state has to take over - and it can't afford to.

SMEs account for 59.3% of private sector employment, employing some 14.4 million people and providing 48% of private sector turnover. Power to the private sector then? Not so. An election is around the corner - never has a political contest been won on SME issues because, despite the electorate having the largest voice in the community, it doesn't vote collectively.

If bosses could corral their workforce to vote for the party offering the best outcome for small business, we might see some change from politicians and an agenda put forward. But there is disconnect between private sector employers and private sector employees.

A simple message of "could I ask my loyal and considerate workforce to vote for party X who will do most for my long term business and their long term survival" therefore goes unheeded. And, as we all know, in the round, SME favourable policies aren't vote winners.

Here's the rest of the evidence then.

Forty six per cent of SMEs have been turned down by banks for a funding request in the last 12 months, causing cash flow problems for over 50 per cent and denying over 70 per cent the opportunity to maximise revenues or leverage a growth opportunity.

Just over half of all of those who were turned down by banks sought and received alternative funding. A third said that they didn't know where to go to in order to resolve their cash flow plight, whilst the balance believed that they would receive similar treatment from the alternative providers and get refused.

So, all of this conspires to produce a discontinuity that, without a significant change of course, will continue unabated and unchanged. The voice of the SME, despite numerous hardworking forces and associations, will remain, at best unheard, or as is more likely, just not listened to. Perhaps it's time for somebody to stand up and use the vote. I call upon the leadership voices of SMEs to start sending some politically charged messages to their communities. It might just work!

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