James Caan calls for small business start up loans
Today marking the end of Global Entrepreneurship Week it’s Home Enterprise Day which was celebrated with 25 Big Business Breakfasts around the country. Speakers at the London event hosted by Emma Jones of Enterprise Nation included James Caan, John Hayes MP, Minister of State, Torsten Schuppe of Google and Dan Wagner of Powa.com.
The topic focus was how to break down the barriers to starting or growing a business and how to take it global through the use of technology.
James Caan kicked off by stating that in the past government spending has been relied on to pour money into ecomomy but that isn’t going to happen at the moment, large corporates aren’t growing which only leaves small to medium businesses to pull the country out of recession. He went on to say that businesses can thrive through the use of technology and if we achieve anything through Global Entrepreneurship Week he would like the government to give online the prominence that it deserves.
Over 100,000 new businesses started online during the recession with over 50% started from home and most had under £10k start up costs. James Caan would love to see the government start a loan scheme of up to £10k, similar to student loans, to encourage people to start their own business.
The question was directed towards John Hayes and although he said the government couldn’t commit to financial expenditure at the moment it was a great idea and that the government are already investing in small businesses. John Hayes agreed with James Caan that fully expoloiting technology is single biggest step the UK can take to fuel growth.
According to John 17p in every £1 is spent online, so there’s never been a better time for British Businesses to get online. Website creation can be complicated and time intensive to create and get return so he is delighted that websites are available for free for micro businesses through Google and their partners.
Torsten Schuppe of Google was enthusiastic and is confident that they will hit their target of helping 100,000 businesses get their first website by the end of 2010. Although they are basic non-transactional websites he pointed out that consumers expect to be able to find a business online – often customers research online and then buy in store. He gave the example of John Lewis who have found that a customer that uses both their website and shops in store spends four times as much as a customer who shops in store only.
Businesses should as a minimum have a website as an online business card, to ensure that when a customer is looking for them that they can be found. The site may not generate business directly but can generate leads and phone calls giving the opportunity to convert prospects to customers off line.
Dan Wagner agreed that websites are essential and talked about using technology and outsourcing instead of trying to do everything yourself. Third party companies can offer a full transactional ecommerce website as an out of the box solution and many also link to marketplaces. Costs vary but typically between around £20 and £50 a month for starter sites.
Emma Jones wrapped up the session highlighting that it’s very easy to start selling not just locally, but internationally. Many sellers will already have made their first international sale without any advertising at all and it costs a lot less than you might thing to start exporting.
If you don’t already export and sell to Europe and the rest of the world the chances are that you’re missing out on a significant incremental increase to your business. If you’re unsure how to get started with exporting Emma has a book out to coincide with Global Enterprise Week entitled “Go Global, How to take your business to the world“
Britain always was a nation of small shopkeepers!