Germany’s Mittelstand companies are renowned as commercial powerhouses – these medium-sized, often family-owned businesses have become symbols of German economic superiority. It may therefore come as a surprise to discover that the Mittelstand’s equivalent in the UK has grown so rapidly over the past five years that it’s now bigger and better than Germany’s.
With less than two weeks to go until Scotland’s referendum, small business leaders appear to be sanguine. In March, 90 per cent of them told the entrepreneur network Ingenious Britain that they knew how they would vote, with 48 per cent concerned that independence would hurt their business. But by the summer, two-thirds of small and medium-sized business reckoned independence would make no difference to them, according to a survey by the networking group Vistage.
The UK economy seems to be in a period of very slow growth or possibly even stagnation. At the same time, the Government is repeatedly reminding us that smaller businesses will be the engines of growth and job creation in the recovery.
Having been in business for nearly 40 years, Graham Bultitude has seen no fewer than four recessions. Each has been different, of course. But there are nevertheless general conclusions to be drawn. “For a lot of small companies, recessions can be a good and a bad thing,” explains Bultitude, who started Bristol Batteries, selling mainly car batteries in 1972, just in time to be hit by the oil shock and resulting recession of the early 1970s.
Continuing political unrest in the Middle East – and, with it, a real risk that furtherrises in an already high oil price could hold back any economic growth in Britain–means that Chancellor George Osborne has rather limited room for manoeuvre in his Budget, due to be announced later this month.