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December 06, 2013

Also in the news this week – 6 December 2013

Many business websites still not mobile-friendly

39% of companies in the UK still have business websites that don't work on mobile devices, according to a new report from Catalogues 4 Business (C4B). The research questioned businesses from both the B2B and B2C sectors, including many in ecommerce. It found that only just over 50% of businesses have actively taken steps to ensure that their website can be read on a mobile device. And it found that 7% of companies never check their web traffic statistics. Ian Simpson, managing director at C4B, comments: "Tablet-driven ecommerce has tripled this year to £4.74bn, and that is 10.4% of total market. In order to target your customers effectively you have to consider the types of devices that your digital media is viewed on."

New EU data rules could cost SMEs over £75,000 a year

New data protection legislation currently being discussed by Europe's Justice and Home Affairs ministers could place an undue financial burden on small firms, according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and the British Bankers' Association (BBA). Additions to current proposals would require small firms that hold details of 5,000 customers or more to employ a data protection officer, conduct a data protection impact assessment every year and carry out a compliance review every two years. John Allan, FSB national chairman, said: "If you are a small business with 4,500 customers on your mailing list you might reconsider plans to grow your business for fear of having to spend over £75,000 each year in order to comply with data protection regulations."

Business groups welcome simplified parental leave plans

A simpler system for managing shared parental leave has been announced by the government. Business minister, Jo Swinson, said: "This new system will give us a great opportunity to make our workforce even more flexible, help working families and boost economic growth." Business bodies, including the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), have welcomed the new approach. John Wastnage, BCC employment adviser, said: "We are pleased that the government has listened to business and this response appears to offer pragmatic solutions."

Venture capital trust to fund ex-military entrepreneurs

TIME:REBOOT is the first Venture Capital Trust (VCT) in the UK to invest exclusively in businesses run by ex-military entrepreneurs. It plans to raise up to £20 million by the end of April 2014. The minimum investment is £3,000, and at least 50% of the VCT qualifying investments will back established profitable firms. TIME:REBOOT VCT is managed by TIME Investments. TIME fund manager, Stuart Nicol, said: "We estimate that there are over two million veterans in the UK of working age. There are numerous examples of great businesses that have been created by veterans including Trailfinders and Go Ape in the UK, and FedEx, Wal-Mart and Enterprise Rental in the US."

"Could do better" – small tech firms' verdict on banks

59% of micro-enterprises believe business growth would be significantly improved if they received specialist banking services, but most are not being offered them. This is one of the findings of research by IT specialist Comarch. The poll surveyed companies in Tech City, the East London technical enterprise zone. It found that just 7% of micro-enterprises had been offered cash-flow forecasting, for example, but more than one in four would be willing to pay for such services.