Thousands of garages are estimated to be lying empty in London alone. My report, From Lock Up to Start Up has identified 3,275 empty garages owned between just ten housing associations across the Capital. Converting some of these empty garages into basic standard, affordable studios, workshops and commercial space could provide the much needed affordable space that London's start-ups and micro businesses so desperately need.
Across the world medium-sized businesses have been fueling the economic recovery. In Germany, the core groups of around 1,400 Mittelstand firms have become the main 'stokers' of its economic firepower. In the UK, mid-sized firms grew 5% over the past five years, outperforming both small companies and large corporations.
What a long way we have come. I can remember when we administered the first £1million. It seemed like a huge milestone. It seems like only yesterday we had provided loans to 5,000 businesses and now we have passed the 10,000th milestone. We should be very proud of what we have achieved, but there is still a long way to go...
Nine months ago I left my perfectly reasonable job in online advertising to start my own business. Starting a blog nine months into a startup seems particularly appropriate because in that time, as I'm sure you're aware, a baby can be made. There are many many similarities between having a baby and forming your own start-up.
Croatia's recent accession to the EU has given exporters cause to celebrate too, as the path to international trading with this exciting European market has never been smoother. As the EU's 28th member state, entry into the EU means an increase in the free circulation of goods, services and people between Croatia and the UK, as well as removing some of the existing barriers to trade.
So why don't we spend money with our local independent retailers? Why do we insist on hitting Debenhams for our clothes, Sainsbury's for our food and B&Q for our homeware or furniture? We all know the dire situation that independent business owners face yet we do nothing. Does it come down to price? Yes, maybe it does in some cases, but I think there's more to it than that.
According to Hiscox, cyber-crime is costing the UK £11bn a year and 1 in 10 small businesses in the UK have experienced a data hack. The issue is that data, no matter how boring or useless you might think it is, is the gold dust of the digital world. That's why both powerful governments and your average small business are all at risk.