Powering entrepreneurial ambitions

Foreword by Jonathan Reynolds MP, Shadow Economic Secretary to the Treasury

Each one of the companies in this inspiring book is the product of a much longer and less glamorous backstory of sleepless nights and hard graft. The entrepreneurial spirit apparent within these pages is what kept these businesspeople going through the stress and sacrifices to make their idea a success. That spirit is not just laudable, but essential to our economy.

SMEs provide 60% of private sector jobs. They are at the frontline of technological changes such as digital manufacturing, which means agile, small businesses have the potential to power our economy into the future.

We want these positive growth stories to flourish. But, we know that right now, smaller companies cannot always access the capital they need at the right time to take their growth up to the next level. Evidence from the Financing Investment Report, written for Labour by GFC Economics in December 2017, showed that the outstanding stock of loans to SMEs has dropped from £197.8bn in April 2011 (when the data starts) to £165.4bn in October 2017. Small companies need finance to scaleup – as the report emphasised, even if company balance sheets look healthy, a lack of investment in new technology will compromise businesses’ ability to compete globally in the long term. Given the productivity gap we continue to face in the British economy, this urgently needs addressing.

I was especially pleased to see that some of the fastest SME growth is happening in the North West. I say this not just as an MP of the region – it is widely recognised that growth has been concentrated in London and the South East for far too long. This is why Labour wants to mobilise capital for small businesses throughout the UK with a new National Investment Bank, which will support a network of regional development banks and aim to fill in funding gaps. Small companies need access to a range of financing options, which are matched to where they are in their growth cycle.

The innovations in this book prove that we are incubating a new generation of British entrepreneurs. By making sure that capital flows to small companies and around the country, we can build a more resilient post-Brexit economy around a thriving SME backbone.