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.
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...