In the recent Breedon report’s “Boosting finance options for UK business” paper, it was interesting to see that external equity funding is significantly under-utilised by small UK businesses. Only 3% of small businesses use equity finance whereas a staggering 55% use credit cards.

Source: Small Firms in the Credit Crisis: Evidence from the UK Survey of SME Finances www2.warwic.ac.uk/fac/soc/wbs/research/csme/research/latest/small_firms_in_the_credit_crisis_v3-oct09.pdf

25% of businesses do not have a policy in place for employees to work remotely via their own personal devices. Concern focuses towards IT departments where 96% of IT managers fear security risks, highlighting an ostrich approach to security that is counterproductive. Bring your own device (BOYD) is perfect as it is both cost effective and enables employees a more flexible working day. By establishing a secure policy within a company will enrich the ability of successful mobile working, uphold compliance and strengthen the security of business data allowing employees the ability to choose between office and home. Source: SecureData Europe

  • Data storage
  • Data security
  • Data transmission
  • Cyber security
  • Exploiting social media
  • “Big data”

Have you thought about how your business is addressing these opportunities?

According to research from UBS, 50% of 2011 global GDP growth came from Asia Pacific excluding Japan and more than a fifth from Latin America. In short, emerging markets were responsible for almost 70% of 2011 global growth with China alone contributing almost 30%. Put that another way, without emerging markets world economic output would have grown less than 1%.

"Can Do" badge

One of the most important rules I set myself is to employ or do business with people who wear the “Can Do” badge. Why do I say this and what do I mean? To generate and grow a business requires a positive approach, an ability to come up with solutions and be constructively critical. I will avoid people who find reasons not to do things. Those who wear the “Can Do” badge are the first to embrace technology.

Embracing Technology

Are you embracing technology in your business? Are you thinking about the growth opportunities the internet will provide? Here are some facts and forecasts to help you address this fast growing, global marketplace.

Individuals looking to invest and support early stage growth companies in the UK should take a close look at a recent UK Government initiative designed to incentivise such high risk investment. Think of Seed EIS as a tax incentive to invest in a company’s first funding round and which could be a prelude to a later, larger funding round where EIS tax relief would be available.

The key terms are summarised from HMRC’s website below:-
Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) – relief effective on or after 6 April 2012. For the first year of the new scheme, the Government will offer a capital gains tax (CGT) holiday – gains realised on the disposal of assets in 2012-13 that are invested through SEIS in the same year will be exempt from CGT.

It is well known that the FTSE 100 index of the 100 largest quoted UK companies by market capitalisation is no longer a barometer of the UK economy. Here is a quick reminder why.

  1. 45% of the index is just 3 sectors, 19% is oil and gas, 15% resources mainly mining and 11% banks.
  2. Just 26 stocks account for 45% of the index.
  3. If you add in the pharmaceutical and household goods sectors then 5 sectors account for nearly 60% of the index.

Finally, remember that 70% of the index’s earnings are generated overseas.

The number of devices in use around the world is forecast to increase to 22 billion by 2020. That’s almost 3 devices per person on the planet with forecasts predicting a global population of 7.6 billion by 2020. This is a huge business opportunity. Here is just one example. The digital storage required will need to grow by some 30 times to fulfil forecast demand.

Today there are over 2.1 billion people able to access the internet. This is forecast to rise to 5 billion by 2020.

Android, Symbian and Apple operating systems (OS) now account for 83% of the global smartphone market with Android alone taking a 43% market share (Source: Gartner)

In 2011, PC and laptop sales are expected to reach at least 350m units and they are still growing. Smartphone sales at approximately 420m units will overtake PC sales and they are growing much faster. Tablet sales are expected to be 50m units in 2011 and from a low base are growing even faster still. According to the Economist there will be more than 10bn connected devices by 2020. That’s more than one per head of the current 7bn global population.

Continuing my theme of expected (low) growth for major western economies, Germany “the powerhouse of Europe” has reported Q2 growth of just 0.1%, less even than the UK at 0.2% and the 17 country Eurozone average of 0.2% and France at zero. This will not help Europe to reduce its debt burden. Now we know one of the key factors stock markets have been adjusting to over the last few weeks, (the other major one being the outlook for US growth). Forecast growth rates for many major economies including the UK will inevitably need downgrading over coming months. The GDP forecast for the UK for 2011 was 2 to 2.5% 12 months ago, since then forecasts have been cut to 1.5%+ and even that now looks optimistic. Major developed economies such as the UK may have to get used to lower growth rates (1 to 1.5%) for some years.

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