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Small business speaks: SME owners share experiences

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Goldman sachs

By Charlotte Keenan, Head of the Office of Corporate Engagement International, Goldman Sachs

Since 2010, almost 1,500 leaders of the UK’s most ambitious high-growth small businesses have graduated from Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses UK. As some of the fastest-growing UK businesses, each has invaluable insights to offer on how to overcome the UK’s productivity gap. 

Tapping into this on-the-ground knowledge, we have recently convened a series of conversations with policy-makers, providing a platform for small businesses with to share the opportunities and challenges they face on a daily basis.  

But what have they been saying? That collectively, they are the beating heart of our economy: dynamic and transformative, growing and innovating. That this group alone generates £2.8 billion in collective revenue and sustains over 40,000 jobs. That individually, each is striving to grow, to create jobs, to find new markets, refine new products. To overcome challenges, internal and external. That they need a business environment that encourages entrepreneurship, attracts the best talent and inspires innovation.

It is up to both the private and public sector to work together to make that environment a reality. Since 2010 that has been the goal of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses programme which has been supporting these small business leaders across the UK with an intensive, applied business education programme, creating the roadmap for their future growth. Giving business owners the leadership tools not just to survive, but to thrive. 

We know that this approach works both for the individual and the wider UK economy. In our most comprehensive ever impact report, released earlier this autumn, the impact of this approach is clear. 10,000 Small Businesses UK alumni are growing revenue at 16 times the rate of other UK small businesses and creating jobs at a rate 13 times the national average. Participating businesses double their revenue in the first two years after graduating and create 54% more jobs. We encourage these businesses to look upwards and outwards, to step back to step up and give them the tools – whether they are financial, strategic or behavioural – to grow. Their productivity accordingly improves, increasing nearly 30% over a 5 year period versus other high growth small businesses. 

This matters. It matters because each business creates its own ecosystem. An ecosystem of interconnected families, of supply chains, of people and becomes a local champion of growth. Each acts as a catalyst and a multiplier: a growth hero. This matters because it stimulates further growth amongst all those whom they touch, inspiring and energising those around them. And growing regional economies are good for all of us.

As we look to the year ahead and a period of change, businesses need to seize their local and global opportunities and both the public and private sectors need to do all they can to make that possible. We look forward to collaborating with partners in the months ahead, to ensure that our efforts work together in parallel and deliver for small businesses. For these small businesses are the secret to sustainable job creation, to wage growth, to boosting top and bottom lines, to long term prosperity and the key to solving the productivity puzzle.