Whilst volunteering with Challenges Worldwide in Zambia earlier this year, I was placed on a project with in-country volunteer Emmanuel, a recent graduate. Beyond being a great personality to be around, he had this strong hunger to learn and improve despite having little previous experience in business, particularly in a consultancy role.
SMEs form the backbone of our economy, making up around 99% of Britain's private sector businesses in the UK, 48% of private sector employment and 33% of private sector turnover. Over 200,000 of these businesses in the UK sell through eBay; that's a great responsibility and one which is front of mind as we continue to grow as an online marketplace.
It is time for SMEs to fully embrace the technology that is available to them. Many small business owners will deem themselves time poor, but there are solutions to help and enable more time to be reserved for growth and development. Technology is no longer an area exclusive to the bigger companies, it should be central to SMEs' daily activity.
Boris described the planning policy as "utterly crazy" and said that "Government is totally wrong on changes to permitted development rights... It reduces the space where firms can start up". Let's hope more legislators see sense soon, and stop this threat to independent businesses that are so vital for our creative economy and community.
There are many important decisions SME owners have to take in the early stages of their business, and one of the most important is making that first hire. Depending on the individual company, this could be done immediately, within a few months, or even a year after starting up. There is no singular approach, but it must be the right decision at the right time. The key question to ask yourself is whether you can justify making a new hire, in terms of cost and workload. I experienced this when I started my first recruitment business - it was four months before I had enough money in the bank to be able to take someone on.
While creativity is thriving in the UK, many businesses struggle to make the step from executing successful projects to becoming fully-fledged, sustainable creative businesses. Investing and lending to many creative businesses is still a minority activity, but that may change as a result of some of the measures George Osborne introduced.
Next week George Osborne will announce his budget plans, and with the recovery gaining momentum I'm expecting great things. However, if we want to reap the benefits, provisions need to be made for the SMEs who pulled this country through the recession, starting with a targeted cut to the duty on diesel fuel.