Inside Business: Champion of the cause of enterprise diversity
Sunday 25 January 1998
"I asked my husband what he thought," she says, "and he said I might get enough money to get a deposit for a house." She persuaded a local builder in north London to let her have a desk and a phone. Her business partner would supply the hours and she - because of her domestic position - the expertise.
A few years later, the partner left the business and Ms Weitz turned what is now FDS International into a limited company. It employs 30 people full time and about 150 part time, and in its last financial year saw turnover pass pounds 4m.
FDS is highly successful, with BT and British Gas among its longstanding customers. But she insists that at a time when companies are talking globalisation, remaining independent is a struggle.
"Unemployable" by her own admission, in that she is "very bossy, very ambitious", she enjoys the freedom that running her own business provides. But it requires adaptability, reinvention and a fair amount of "ducking and diving" to keep customers and clients happy, while at the same time staying true to core values.
Last year the company, which has a significant proportion of women at the top, celebrated its 25th anniversary. It is now planning a survey to find other owner-managed businesses that have lasted a similar course.
Ms Weitz's enthusiasm stems from a belief that the success of businesses like hers is vital to the survival of commerce as we know it. Business advisers and politicians increasingly recognise the importance to the economy of such enterprises. The giant mergers announced on an almost daily basis are bad for employees because they generally lead to loss of jobs, and bad for consumers because they reduce choice, she adds.
Her plea on behalf of the small and medium-sized enterprise sector comes as the Independent on Sunday, in association with Price Waterhouse, the accountancy firm, launches its sixth annual listing of the fastest-growing private companies in Britain.
The Independent 100, published in the spring, is based on annual compound sales growth over the five years to 30 June, 1997. In addition, there is recognition for theachievements of companies that continue to expand quickly even though they have reached a certain size, through the Middle Market 50 listing. To qualify, companies must have sales of at least pounds 5m in the financial year to 30 June, 1993 and more than 150 employees in the year to 30 June, 1997.
To give an idea of the performance that will qualify you for inclusion, it should be remembered that each of the top three companies in last year's Independent 100 achieved average annual sales growth over the five years of more than 100 per cent, while even for the 100th company the figure was 33.5 per cent. In the middle market the top-placed company, a mobile phone business, Caudwell Subsidiary Holdings, achieved average annual sales growth of more than 75 per cent. For the 50th company the figure was 25 per cent.
Pointing out that over the past seven years the listings had "become established as a premier forum of UK fast-growth emerging companies", Nigel Crockford, PW corporate finance partner responsible for the listing, said: "The Independent 100 and Middle Market 50 listings identify the star performers in the UK private-company sector, an area of the economy so vital for the creation of wealth, employment and economic growth."
If you think your company stands comparison with such businesses, contact Julie Harwood at Price Waterhouse for an application form. The address for application forms and completed entries is Independent 100, Prince Waterhouse, Southwark Towers, 32 London Bridge Street, London SE1 9SY. Entries must be returned by Friday, 27 February.
- 1 Howard Jacobson: Let's see the 'criticism' of Israel for what it really is
- 2 Gingers face extinction due to climate change, scientists warn
- 4 BBC’s new Game of Thrones slayer 'The Last Kingdom' relies on Saxon appeal, creators say
- 5 PornHub begs users to stop uploading video clips of Brazil getting beaten 7-1
Game of Thrones author George RR Martin says 'f*** you' to fans who fear he will die before finishing Westeros saga
Jennifer Lawrence face palms Emma Watson at Christian Dior show in Paris
Gingers face extinction due to climate change, scientists warn
Pamplona Running of the Bulls 2014: Briton critically injured in San Fermin festival
Israel's deadliest Gaza air strikes yet kill five children from same family as Palestinian rocket barrage continues
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
British jihadist calls for 'flag of Islam' over Downing Street and Buckingham Palace
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
There’s a nasty smell in the political air – and it’s coming from the Tories
iJobs Money & Business
£500 - £1000 per day: Harrington Starr: Harrington Starr are urgently recruiti...
£75000 - £100000 per annum: Cameron Kennedy Recruitment: We urgently require f...
£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive package: Orgtel: Investment Banking Sa...
£200 - £450 per day: Harrington Starr: Web Services Developer Web Services, WP...