Business Connections

Small Talk: It’s time to relieve little firms of the business rate millstone

Don’t be surprised if small businesses dismiss Chancellor Osborne’s support as two-faced

Small Talk: Firms must start to switch banks now it’s much easier

No bank is  launching an  introductory deal to entice small  business customers

Small Talk: Banks drag their feet over interest-rate swaps scandal

Britain’s banks insist they want to support small and medium-sized enterprises. So why have they been so slow to resolve the multi-billion pound interest-rate swaps mis-selling scandal?

Small Talk: Profits slump for TalkSport owner UTV after fall in advertising

Profits have slumped more than 40% at TalkSport owner UTV because of an advertising drought as there has been no big football tournament this summer.

Small Talk: It’s vital for start-ups that we nurture creative talent

Conflicting interpretations of the figures published by exam boards in recent weeks have prompted much debate over the current state of Britain’s education system.

Small Talk: Zero-hours contracts? Key for growth

Depending on whose figures you use, small and medium-sized enterprises account for between 60 and 70 per cent of jobs in the UK economy, and are behind as much as two-thirds of new job creation.

Small Talk: SME lending data throws up more questions than answers

Britain’s banks are convinced the key to repairing their relationships with customers is to be ever-more transparent about their activities. So it is that they have just published detailed statistics on lending to small and medium-sized enterprises in 120 postcodes around the country, including data on how much cash these SMEs have on deposit in the banks.

Small Talk: Slow progress in overcoming unpopular energy rollovers

One down, five to go. British Gas last week announced it would unilaterally abolish automatic rollover of energy contracts for small business customers in September. So will the rest of the Big Six gas and electricity providers follow its lead?

Small Talk: Eurozone is the best choice for taking first step in exports

It has become fashionable to urge British companies to look beyond the struggling eurozone

Small Talk: SMEs which can't get off the ground are the real headache

As former regulator Sir Andrew Large begins yet another inquiry into whether banks are starving small businesses of credit – in his case, specifically Royal Bank of Scotland – it is worth asking whether we are worrying most about the right people. The small and medium-sized enterprises that believe they have been unfairly turned down for lending may complain this is inhibiting their growth potential, but at least they were able to get off the ground in the first place. The next generation of SMEs may not be so fortunate.

Small Talk: Crowdfunding can flourish but it still needs a watchdog

Raise your glasses to BrewDog, the Scottish brewery company in the middle of a £4m growth capital campaign. It is raising the money from equity investors through a private share sale and looks likely to hit its target with no difficulties at all – £1m came in on the first day of the share issue.

Small Talk: It's time SMEs got a better deal on banks competition

The financial crisis may have sent economic growth into a tailspin, but it has been a major boon for one cottage industry: there is no end in sight to the inquiries and investigations into banking that the crisis has prompted. Still, the latest of these inquiries, an Office of Fair Trading investigation into competition in banking for small and medium-sized enterprises, represents an important opportunity.

Small Talk: Your data may be safer in the clouds, despite the latest security furore

While the furore over the US data surveillance programme Prism raged last week, Microsoft published a little-noticed research note that suggests too many small and medium-sized enterprises in the UK may be missing out because of their anxiety about data privacy and security.

Small Talk: It's a misconception that we're tying ourselves up in red tape

Having been embarrassed by yet another set of disappointing figures on bank lending to small businesses last week, Government ministers were understandably keen to get back on the front foot. So Business Minister Michael Fallon must have been delighted to be able to make a set-piece announcement about a crackdown on all the ghastly red tape preventing small and medium-sized enterprises getting on with the day job.

News
Construction is among the sectors where growth has slowed since the spring
Don't you believe it, says David Blanchflower
News
Premier Foods changed its policy on 'pay to stay' contracts for its suppliers after they were exposed
If you’re a large company with hundreds of suppliers, each individual firm is entirely expendable, writes David Prosser
News
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his annual press conference in Moscow
While low oil prices are toxic for the energy export-dominated Russian economy, they are a boon for Western consumers, says Ben Chu
News
Bankers who reach the dizzy heights of partnership status at Goldman Sachs achieve legendary status in the bank’s London office
Exclusive: Being a partner at the bank has an almost mythological status, and an internal memo seen by Jim Armitage shows the qualities needed to make it - like charging a pension fund $70m
News
Rocket Internet’s founder Oliver Samwer, centre, with the incubator’s chief executive and finance director when it listed in October
The German-based start-up factory has churned out more than 100 businesses in recent years. And now it’s looking to replicate its success here, says Oscar Williams-Grut
News
The rouble staged a brief recovery yesterday before resuming its slide
A massive central bank interest rate hike failed to support the rouble. This crisis is slipping out of Moscow’s control, says Ben Chu
Voices
Ringing the changes: BT has come a long way since the days of the General Post Office
BT's basic business of running wires into homes and businesses is hugely profitable, writes Hamish McRae
News
Satyajit Das: Donors are free to channel funds to their chosen causes, some noble, some hubristic and some just plain odd
News
The Uber app allows passengers to hail a taxi with a smartphone
Uber facing down the cabbies by recruiting lobbyists to push for law changes, says Oscar Williams-Grut
News
VIDEO City analysts sound the alarm over the upcoming Premier League rights auction as shares in TV giant slide
News
Self-employment is particularly important in construction
Self-employment conveys considerable risks: many lose their jobs, their houses, and even their marriages, writes David Blanchflower
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Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?