Small but competitive
IN common with Huntingdonshire District Council, which has backed The Hunts Post Business Awards from the start, the Federation of Small Businesses has been a long-term sponsor – appropriately of the Small Business category. With an estimated 6,000-7,000
IN common with Huntingdonshire District Council, which has backed The Hunts Post Business Awards from the start, the Federation of Small Businesses has been a long-term sponsor - appropriately of the Small Business category.
With an estimated 6,000-7,000 small companies in Huntingdonshire - anything from sole traders to firms with up to 100 employees - the sector is not just the backbone of the district's economy. It is most of the rest of the skeleton as well.
The council was recently given more than £450,000 by central Government as a reward for its success in encouraging business start-up and expansion, and there could be more in the pipeline when a legal challenge is sorted out. It may not seem a huge sum in the context of public sector finance but, set against the £6.3million HDC takes from Council Tax payers, it is a significant contribution to income.
Economic development is a key activity for HDC, which holds regular consultation meetings with local businesses, including consulting annually on its budget proposals.
One of its most prominent guests on such occasions is Malcolm Lyons, who has been chairman of Huntingdonshire's branch of the FSB for the past six years.
"It's important for us to demonstrate just how important small businesses are to the UK's economy, when around 95 per cent of companies are classified as small. Huntingdonshire is dominated by small firms," he said.
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"As the leading business organisation in the UK, we want to show our involvement," he said.
"Our growth in Huntingdonshire has been tremendous. When I took over as chairman, we had 400 members. Now, six years later, we're heading towards 900, and it's important that we play a role in lobbying."
The impact of the FSB's awards sponsorship is not just the kudos of winning the award, but the discipline companies need to present credible entries.
"It's not so much the winning, as the taking part," Mr Lyons said. "That's why people should enter. It encourages you to look harder at yourself as a business. You know that you are going to expose yourself to scrutiny, and that underlines the need for ensuring you have got your business right. That's good for progressing upwards.
"After all, most large businesses started as small ones. It shows you're not frightened of the scrutiny, and it gives added impetus. To win and get your picture in The Hunts Post is brilliant, but it's slightly secondary to having the confidence to progress.