April 25, 2014
Flexible working practices are helping to create "intrapreneurs" – employees with entrepreneurial flair – according to a new study by Regus. Its poll of 370 business owners and managers in the ICT sector found that the best ways to nurture intrapreneurs are mixing staff from different functions (cited by half of respondents) and offering flexible working in terms of hours and location (cited by 44%). Andre Sharpe, global product and business development director at Regus, said: "A flexible work style creates a happier workforce, in the right frame of mind to be creative. In other words, firms of all sizes are replicating the model that is the traditional province of small businesses and entrepreneurs."
Three quarters of the UK's micro businesses think social media is "not important" to their business strategy, according to a survey by Bibby Financial Services (BFS). Instead, 67% say word of mouth is fuelling their growth in 2014. Even so, 65% of those businesses with nine or fewer employees use social media – LinkedIn is used by 37% of SMEs, Facebook by 27% and Twitter by 17%.
Six out of ten of UK firms with between 62 and 249 staff have had to employ additional HR staff to cope with the auto-enrolment pension setup process, according to new research by AutoenrolSME. These small to medium-sized companies have to meet auto-enrolment workplace pension staging dates this year. Smaller businesses will have to meet staging deadlines over the next two years. The survey found that 14% of businesses recruited an additional full-time HR staff member to cope with the additional workload, a third had to hire part-time staff, and 31% of business owners used freelance HR staff to set up the pension scheme.
Demand for finance is still outstripping supply for small businesses according to the Bank of England's latest Trends in Lending report. It reported that: "The annual rate of growth in the stock of lending to UK businesses remained negative in the three months to February." John Allan, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: "Coupled with no change in the pricing of lending facilities despite a strengthening economy, it underlines the ongoing challenges small businesses face in accessing finance to meet their growth ambitions."
A new government-backed business tour, Get Growing! The Great British Business Roadshow, will visit 11 cities across the UK during 2014, providing advice and support for growing businesses. The tour is supported by small business suppliers including FreeAgent, PayPal and Penelope. Get Growing! offers interactive workshops and networking opportunities as well as exclusive offers on business tools and resources.