Business Connections

Small Talk: Forget the regulator, it’s down to the customers to force better competition in business banking

Small businesses pleased that the Competition and Markets Authority’ has decided to refer the banking sector for a full competition inquiry should not get too excited. The truth is that if small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which the CMA agrees suffer at the hands of a lack of competition in the banking sector, really do want a better deal, they are going to have to fight for it.

Six in 10 small businesses are owed late payments and the average small business is currently owed £38,186 in overdue bills, Bacs says

Small Talk: Small businesses struggle to get paid – and too often the culprits are big businesses and councils

One in four companies is spending more than 10 hours a week chasing overdue payments

Small Talk: The Alternative Investment Market has recovered after five miserable years but is still fragile

Britain has a remarkable propensity for building things up only in order to knock them down again. The sad story of the online fashion retailer Asos is a case in point. Having lauded the company for years, driving its stock to higher and higher valuations, investors have run for cover at the first sign of trouble; two profits warnings have seen the share price halve this year.

Small Talk: Click and collect could be the catalyst for small, independent retailers to mount a comeback

Could the internet save the high street, particularly the smaller independent retailers we all profess to love but all too often fail to support with our custom? Brandon Lewis, the government minister with responsibility for the internet, thinks so – and he might be right.

Medium-sized businesses need more support to stop them from falling over the tax cliff

More support for Britain’s often-neglected medium-sized businesses: the Confederation of British Industry today publishes a series of proposals for tax reforms it hopes will enable many of these companies to fulfil their potential.

Small talk: As more small companies appeal against rejected applications for credit, banks need to try harder to get their lending decisions right

More than 1,100 small firms were wrongly turned down for finance by a big bank over the year to the end of March, a report reveals today.

Small Talk: Forget the funding... entrepreneurs should bank on having a mentor to give them a flying start

What support do business start-ups need most today in order to get off the ground, grow and eventually prosper?

Small Talk: Celebrating regional talent and innovation will help to foster growth, says chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses

In many ways, London is in a league of its own. It is home to one of the world’s greatest financial centres. The capital is a crucible of trade and commerce for both established and emerging markets as well as being the hub of creative talent, but there is so much untapped potential in our nations and regions.

Small Talk: In Britain small companies are often sold on to bigger firms. In Germany they tend to do things differently ...

The former BT boss Lord Livingston, who now serves at the UK’s Trade and Investment minister, is understandably delighted about the deal announced last week by Chinook Sciences, the Nottingham-based clean technology specialist. Chinook’s £300m contract to build a waste-driven energy plant in the UAE is the first large export deal for a medium-sized British company since Lord Livingston unveiled specialist support for these businesses earlier this year.

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Small Talk: Who should we thank for falling unemployment? SMEs. So we must do everything we can to help them carry on the good work

Who should take the credit for Britain’s jobless rate falling back below 7 per cent? Well, while policymakers argue about the politics of lower unemployment, let’s look at the figures: since 2010, 84 per cent of job growth has come from small and medium-sized enterprises, while almost nine in 10 people moving out of unemployment have either started their own business or been taken on by someone else’s small company.

Voices
Larry Fink, the boss of fund manager BlackRock , is among those sounding the alarm
If we turn a blind eye to this problem, we are in danger of excessively discounting our own future prosperit, says Ben Chu
News
Amazon have just launched their new streaming service in the UK
Jeff Bezos says his Prime Music service is 'the best bargain in the history of shopping'. Ian Burrell wonders whether British listeners will agree
News
Autumn is a magical time of year here in London. However; once the clocks go back one hour in late October, getting up for work in the mornings will become an increasingly dark and cold affair, whilst the days become brief.
The UK is still behind the US and China
News
Apple has accumulated piles of cash – how should it spend it?
The Bank of England’s chief economist is the latest to warn that companies’ dividend payouts are too high while investment is too low. Ben Chu reports
Voices
On a high: the 24-arch Ribblehead Viaduct symbolises this scenic railway
Ideology can contribute nothing to debates about privatisation
News
The stresses of modern life are thought to have created
These are the UK companies with the best work-life balance
News
Cans of fizzy drinks
Coca-Cola said that global sales of Diet Coke fell 7% on the same quarter last year
News
Visitors shop around Samsung's smart-phones at a shopping mall in Seoul, South Korea
Investors fear that the smartphone market might be reaching its limit
News
Losing its shine? The precious metal has previously been a good bet in turbulent times
Five tonnes of gold were dumped on the Shanghai exchange yesterday, pushing the price to its lowest since 2010. Has this safe haven had its day? Russell Lynch reports
News
A pro-Euro protester holds an umbrella with the European Union symbol during a rally in front of the parliament building in Athens
The euro is a capricious god, meting out punishment to sinners and saints alike, writes Matt O'Brien
News
A Greek protester casts German leader Angela Merkel in the role of villain. Neither side is blameless
Ben Chu on why there are times when only statistics will do
News
While Iran still has vast reserves, some fields will need Western technology to fully exploit resources
With prices falling and equipment issues raised, post-sanctions investment might be risky. But Tom Bawden finds it may prove irresistible...
Life and Style
There aren’t 3D holograms in shops yet, but the sort of targeted advertising demonstrated in Minority Report is possible today, and Apple Pay’s spending profiles could help it to happen
As Apple's new mobile-based payment system launches in the UK, questions remain over security and privacy, as it can collect a detailed profile of its users’ shopping habits. Jamie Nimmo reports on the new contactless technology
News
Beside the seaside: A glorious vista missed
A strong pound, tight visa restrictions and poor accessibility are causing money-spending tourists to skip the UK, writes Joanna Bourke
News
George Osborne holds up the red briefcase outside No 11 Downing Street
The Chancellor has loosened the squeeze on day-to-day Whitehall spending - but why? Ben Chu explains
News
Investors use computers to trade stocks at a brokerage office in Beijing
Beijing is getting desperate as its stock markets continue to plummet. Ben Chu looks at the unique conditions behind the 'Great Fall of China' headlines
News
Tour operators Thomas Cook and Tui have cut forecasts for this year
Travel companies may be feeling the pinch as Aegean holidays dwindle, but car sales are buoyant, says Jamie Nimmo
Voices
Polonius in ‘Hamlet’ counselled against debt
'Neither a borrower nor a lender be,' burbled Shakespeare’s Polonius. Ben Chu says it’s worth asking: Why do we borrow?
News
Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin empire

Jim Armitage says that while it may sound good the $500m project has many pitfalls

News
The Chinese way: many investors haven’t completed high school

Shanghai Duolun Industry, a Chinese real estate company, managed to win over investors with a little re-branding in May. Ana Swanson reports.

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Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks