Business Connections

Small Talk: Unity is strength when it comes to beating late payers

How do small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) deal with persistent late payers that damage their cashflow and jeopardise their very survival? A new piece of research from Barclays Bank suggests many SMEs are getting tough with late payers – if that's the case, it's not before time.

Small Talk: Taxman is cracking down hard on the small companies with very little hope

Is the taxman getting tough on small businesses struggling to pay their bills? HM Revenue & Customs' own figures suggest this may well be the case.HMRC's data, crunched by Wilkins Kennedy, the accountant, reveals that in the 2011-12 tax year, it presented 57 per cent more petitions to wind up companies with unpaid tax bills than in the previous 12 months. It sought to liquidate just over 5,300 companies last year, up from about 3,400 in 2010-11.

Small Talk: Problems ahead but the tax revolution looks a winner

HM Revenue & Customs is as adept as any commercial organisation at presenting changes to its practices as "improvements", no matter what additional expense or hassle they cause. So it is with real-time information (RTI), about which David Gauke, the Treasury minister with responsibility for HMRC, tends to be evangelical.

Small Talk: Flawed, but scheme to help start-ups still has lots to offer

How many people have begun January by resolving to make 2013 the year they finally strike out alone and start their own business? Social market research invariably shows self-employment is hugely appealing to many people – over and above the increases we have seen in the past couple of years (one suspects many of these newly self-employed people have been forced into this status by the double-dip recession).

Small Talk: Sorry, but it's time to end the misery of these zombie firms

Here's the thing about zombies. As every horror movie fan knows, the fact the undead are invariably victims themselves – typically of some awful pandemic – they still pose a threat that must be countered.

Small Talk: Lots of funding initiatives but precious few achievements

The patchwork quilt of different measures designed to fund the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises is at last being knitted together. But goodness, progress is slow.

Small Talk: Volume may be a problem for investment trusts

The investment-trust industry, which has long been the poor relation of open-ended funds such as unit trusts, is rubbing its hands with glee at the prospect of the retail distribution review. The regulatory shake-up of financial advice, which takes effect on 1 January, will ban providers from paying commissions to advisers who recommend their products to clients. Investment trusts, as quoted companies, have never been able to do this and blame commission bias for the fact financial advisers neglected the sector in favour of open-ended funds.

Small Talk: Osborne prolongs the great business rates robbery

All Chancellors give with one hand only to take with another – that's the job – but for far too many small businesses, George Osborne's Autumn Statement only prolongs the agony. For all the talk of targeted help for small businesses, the great business rates robbery will continue.

Small Talk: Stalemate over new bank is disappointing

Wednesday's Autumn Statement looks set to see another chance to boost small and medium enterprises go begging. Despite months of discussions, it's almost certain George Osborne will not be able to unveil the blueprint for a state-backed business bank. The Chancellor and his officials have apparently failed to reach agreement with Vince Cable's Department for Business on the detail. This is unhelpful, for the arguments over bank lending to SMEs have reached a stalemate.

Small Talk: Why the seed enterprise scheme fell on stony ground for the Treasury

Sometimes, you can't even give your money away. That must be the feeling among those ministers who have had a hand in the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme.

Small Talk: Few entrepreneurial role models for risk-averse British

Who are the role models for Britain's aspiring entrepreneurs and small business founders? There are surprisingly few – anyone who works with small and medium-sized enterprises will quickly become accustomed to the same faces used to promote the sector's campaigns.

Small Talk: Let's give a warmer welcome to Vince and his Business Bank

Government isn't much fun – just ask Business Secretary Vince Cable, who in pre-coalition days was routinely lauded as politics' voice of reason, but who today has barely a friend to his name. The latest Vince wheeze to get a kicking is the Government's new Business Bank, which he hopes will be able to turn £1bn of taxpayers' money into £10bn worth of support for small and medium-sized enterprises.

Small Talk: Cameron plan to ease cash flow for SMEs could be a winner

Having failed to force Britain's banks to lend more to small and medium-sized enterprises, it appears the Prime Minister now hopes to persuade our largest companies to do their bit instead.

Small Talk: Helping hand with cash flow – but urgent questions, too

Desperate times call for desperate measures. There is good reason to think the Government's new supply chain finance initiative will be successful – in that sense it is to be applauded. But the fact David Cameron last week felt it necessary to ask the bosses of Britain's biggest companies to back the scheme shows just how dysfunctional the operating environment for small businesses has become.

Small Talk: Give them credit if we want the minnows to do big things

Do this week's third-quarter GDP figures represent an opportunity? Ask any fund manager where in the stock market you should place your bets in the event of an economic recovery and the answer is likely to be the same: most statistical analysis suggests that smaller companies tend to outperform during the first stage of an upswing.

News
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Premier Foods changed its policy on 'pay to stay' contracts for its suppliers after they were exposed
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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
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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
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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
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Satyajit Das: Donors are free to channel funds to their chosen causes, some noble, some hubristic and some just plain odd
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Uber facing down the cabbies by recruiting lobbyists to push for law changes, says Oscar Williams-Grut
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VIDEO City analysts sound the alarm over the upcoming Premier League rights auction as shares in TV giant slide
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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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