To a great extent the aims of the summit were achieved. My reasons for attending were twofold – to make new business contacts and to learn something new. After thirty years in business it’s easy to get complacent about the latter! It was a well thought out and packed programme, with some inspired choices for speakers and seminars. For me there were just two things missing – Federation of Small Business (FSB) members, and exhibitors.
There are in excess of 200,000 members nationally and more than 5,000 within the regions surrounding Liverpool (I still can’t get to grips with the regions!). The attendance numbers were disappointingly low and I say this from my point of view as a visitor and member – not from the FSB’s point of view.
In terms of exhibitors, there weren’t many. Whether this was due to a lack of commitment from members/affiliates or whether it was intentional due to limited space who knows, but a greater number of exhibitors interacting with members could be very positive for the future. For a company like ours, offering short term cash flow advances to businesses, what better way to raise awareness of our service than by exhibiting directly to fellow FSB members?
What was significant was the calibre of speakers invited to the event. Mike Southon, ‘the Beermat Entrepreneur’, hosted the event and within minutes had summed up the benefits that membership of the FSB carries for UK SME’s. In truth some members may not be making the most of these member benefits. Chris Maguire, Editor of the Northwest Business Insider presented, at a fairly fast pace, no less than fifteen tips for UK businesses based on his numerous interviews with high profile entrepreneurs.
During the course of the day a total of twelve workshops based around Sales and Marketing, Finance and Funding and Business Development were on offer. This is where the FSB really demonstrated what could be achieved, as anyone in business knows, these are hot topics. Of the twelve on offer I attended four, all of which offered some good practical advice and plenty of audience interaction. Nick Montague from Funding Store provided clear, direct and realistic answers to questions surrounding applications for investment and funding, whilst Joe McGrath of LJMU exploded some myths surrounding marketing and gave some food for thought. The workshops which I found particularly useful were “Small business, PR and the news”, delivered by Liesl Smith, FSB Head of Media and the BBC’s Maxine Mawhinney. What a triumph! It was clear that Liesl and Maxine not only had significant experience in their topic but also knew how to deliver key points in a fluent, intelligent manner and told you exactly how to implement PR tactics within your own business. The other workshop which offered straight forward advice and highlighted the possibility of match funded support for projects to UK manufacturers was delivered by the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS). In their own words “MAS works to support manufacturers based in England, no matter what size of company you are we can help. We have a team of specialist manufacturing advisors dedicated to helping your business improve and grow”. If you are a UK manufacturer and you haven’t yet engaged with MAS then I recommend you visit their website to find out more.
If you aren’t an FSB member, then join before 2014 – there are some interesting times ahead. If you are a member then keep your eye on FSB events, get out of the your workplace, and get involved.
In terms of my aims for the day, making several new ‘relevant’ contacts was achieved, but a few more wouldn’t hurt, particularly as we want to reach any small business that may have short term cash flow needs. As for the latter, nobody knows everything and there is so much more to learn in our fast paced, technologically driven business world. It pays to take some time out to listen every now and again! Give yourself time to work on your business, rather than in your business.
If we can help any businesses with cash flow funding, as always, we are hear to help, and if you are an FSB member please do let us know when you call us.
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