All is not rosy for smaller companies


Lake - Credit: Archant

Unfortunately, not quite. There are still plenty of problems facing the county's small businesses, and many are problems which central and local government could do a lot to alleviate. In 2008, when the crisis first hit, it was small firms which felt the pinch first. They were the ones who got the call from their bank, which in some cases said they wanted a loan repaid. For others the squeeze came later when they found their usual source of new loans had dried up. Even if loans are history at least grants of various kinds are available to small businesses, but our members say it is often hard to find out what is on offer and how to get access to it. Cash is king, they say, and cash flow is certainly vitally important to businesses of all sizes, but especially those which can't get credit. So when customers take months to settle accounts, things can get very tight, which in turn can add to running costs. Bigger companies, which are better able to withstand cash flow problems, are often the culprits. Meanwhile, just keeping in touch is one of the big issues for smaller players. They are often located in rural areas, where broadband speeds are typically a lot slower. But broadband is vital for most firms, and especially those which rely on e-commerce. Usually the big companies make the headlines, but it is actually the small businesses which are the backbone of East Anglia's economy. Unless we support them, from those employing a couple of dozen people right down to micro-businesses, we are doing a disservice to the people of Norfolk.

• Martin Lake, Chairman, Mid Norfolk Branch, Federation of Small Businesses