By Emma Jones OPINION Financial Mail on Sunday, London.
The small business culture in Britain has changed beyond belief – and is almost unrecognisable compared with even five years ago.
There are now around five million small and medium-sized enterprises powering Britain, with micro-businesses and 'homepreneurs' increasing their already impressive contribution to the British economy year-on-year. Today, one in seven workers is self-employed, while one in ten UK homes contains a small business.
It's a booming political force that is largely underestimated and often misunderstood – a fact that was hammered home with the introduction of EU VAT regulations on January 1, sparking a full-blown campaign with 23,000 signatories on one petition in three weeks.
It highlighted the need for this group to have its needs taken more seriously and given more consideration than has hitherto been the case in some political circles.
It's one of the reasons why Enterprise Nation is stepping up its focus on membership in 2015. Britain's newest firms are looking for a trusted voice that represents them and their needs – and we're busy stepping up to the mark.
Over the past few years we've seen this revolution at first hand – and absorbed the real concerns of small businesses – and believe me, it's not just lack of funding or too much red tape that concerns them.
It's really practical stuff like making child care costs a tax-deductible expense and convincing more big firms to extend procurement opportunities to firms on merit, not on the number of employees.
These two alone would make a big difference to the lives of everyday British entrepreneurs.
We've produced a ten-point policy document that we hope will help politicians in the run-up to the Election understand what real businesses need in the early stages of development – like good, subsidised advice, share options for staff and eventually a pension and health insurance that's fit for purpose.
Small firms are tired of being judged just because they are not taking on actual staff.
A recent report we did into homepreneurship revealed that the UK's 2.9 million home-based businesses are creating five million self-employment opportunities for other businesses or freelancers. But because they are not taking on actual staff, these are not seen as valuable.
It's time we changed all of that, and took action to work out how to support the way modern businesses start-up and grow – starting from home, growing by outsourcing, going global and subcontracting, as opposed to taking on staff.
Everything has changed and as a country we need to welcome and respond to this change. –––– See Enterprise Nation's ten-point wishlist at thisismoney.co.uk