It’s SME Jim, but not as we know it…

We all know how important small and micro-businesses are to the economy so it’s great to find some neat little INFOGRAPHICS which enable us to see at a glance some basic facts and figures about the number and characteristics of small and micro-enterprises across the UK.

The statistics which prove why small and micro businesses are so important

There are, however, a number of areas of concern I have with this kind of information:

  • Firstly, much of the data has been sourced from the Department of Business, Innovation, and Skills – the  same government department which simply refuses (at least at the moment) to recognise the separateness of micro-enterprises from the all-encompassing term ‘SME’ which includes companies employing up to 250 staff and turnover in the millions. In fact for bank lending purposes under Project Merlin four major high street banks define SMEs with a turnover anywhere between £15m-£25m per year. I wonder where small and micro-enterprises feature in that definition?
  • Secondly, the estimated number of micro-enterprises in the UK in 2010 was 4.33 million followed by a statement that of these 4.33 million, 3.3 million employ no-one.  Unless I’ve missed something obvious here surely those 3.3 million micro-enterprises/sole traders are by their very definition making not taking a job and if that were not the case then our unemployment figures would be even more shocking than they are. Yes, I understand that encouraging more businesses to take on employees is important but at least first recognise and support the brave step those 3.3 million (and growing) have already taken to make a job for themselves.

I know that many small and micro-enterprises in the UK and beyond are simply getting on with the job in hand – running their businesses, trying to make a living. Yet life could and should be so much better for them – a life where they can make a move from just surviving to thriving, a life where a support infrastructure recognises micro-business and gives proportionate allocation of areas such as government funding and a good package of support particularly at the start-up stage.  This kind of recognition and infrastructure isn’t just achievable it is absolutely necessary to ensure the best possible outcomes for the economy and society as a whole.

Whilst we’re waiting and campaigning for this to happen there are a couple of things you could be doing…

  1. The next time someone mentions in conversation the term SME, ask them what exactly they mean by it – are they referring to Small and Medium sized Enterprises or to the ‘engine room of the economy’Small and Micro Enterprises.
  2. If you agree with what I’m saying here (or even if you don’t and want to debate it) rock on over to Enterprise Rockers – a voluntary organisation committed to making life in micro-enterprise better and fairer. You’ll be joining a happy band of people who believe micro-enterprise really Rocks and instead of complaining we’re getting off our seats and doing something for ourselves.  I’ll see you there!
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