Business Connections

Small Talk: Have we got the right target if Aim shares can go into an Isa?

The big issue is whether investors should go into a market that is often illiquid and volatile

Small Talk: It will take years to solve the zombie problem – if it exists

There are two contradictory ways to look at the latest statistics on corporate insolvencies for England and Wales, which fell sharply during the first three months of the year for the fifth successive quarter. They either make a nonsense of the idea that an army of zombie companies threatens to undermine the economy's recovery, or confirm our worst fears.

Small Talk: Tackling late payers is a question of culture, not law

Which industry is worse than any other at paying its suppliers on time? The answer will not come as a surprise to readers who have followed recent efforts of companies such as Selfridges and John Lewis to squeeze more margin out of their supply chains. Retailers, it turns out, are the only companies who are paying more tardily today than a year ago.

Small Talk: Time for suppliers to stand up to bully boys

Next time you buy something in Selfridges, feel free to tell its staff you're happy to pay the price marked on the goods but that if they want the money there and then, you expect a 5 per cent discount. After all, that's effectively what the department store chain has just told its suppliers.

Small Talk: Firms that have cash are finding it tough as well

In a nation obsessed with home ownership, savers have long been let down by policymakers' one-eyed focus on mortgage interest rates – never more so than today in this era of unprecedented monetary stimulus when millions of savers are earning negative real rates of return on their money. But while personal savers are beginning to build up a head of steam as they protest at the raw deal they're getting, who is looking out for the interests of small businesses who hold money on deposit?

Small Talk: George Osborne's Aim lifelines may not be a help to UK small firms

Aim's decline has damaged the once-buoyant broking sector in the City

Small Talk: Here's how Osborne can make a big difference to the SMEs

Almost exactly a year ago today, George Osborne arrived at the Federation of Small Businesses annual dinner with an inspiring message. "I know that with the energy, creativity, innovation and courage of Britain's small businesses we can take on the forces of stagnation and win," the Chancellor of the Exchequer told his audience, inviting small and medium-sized enterprises to take the lead in driving economic recovery.

Small Talk: It's vital firms take steps to defuse the stress time bomb

David Prosser feels it's time to thaw your business relationships

Small Talk: Entrepreneurship as a force for social good

One doesn't hear so much talk of the "big society" these days, but that is not to say it isn't out there. The rise of social entrepreneurship has largely gone unnoticed by the mainstream business community – or policymakers for that matter – but thanks to the support of some organisations that might surprise you, this is a movement which is definitely in the ascendancy.

Small Talk: Save the schemes that find finance for our small firms

Treasury minister David Gauke was in congratulatory mood at the EIS Association's annual dinner at the House of Lords last week. The enterprise investment scheme, through which investors get tax breaks for putting money into smaller companies, is "the most successful and widely respected venture capital relief scheme in Europe", Mr Gauke told his fellow diners.

Small Talk: Scandals can become a silver lining for the smaller retailer

If you're a butcher who can explain the provenance of every piece of meat, shout about it

Small Talk: It's vital to remember that not all small firms are the same

Chuka Umunna, Labour's high-profile shadow Business Secretary, is trying to stick to a new year's resolution that may surprise you: he has promised not to utter the phrase "small and medium-sized enterprise" (or even SME) during 2013. It's not that Mr Umunna and the Labour Party aren't interested in small business; his argument is that the phrase is so generic that it is both meaningless and misleading.

Small Talk: Watchdog has left door open on interest-rate swap cases

The emails began arriving within minutes of the announcement by the Financial Services Authority that tens of thousands of small businesses have been mis-sold interest-rate swaps by the banks. Within half an hour, no fewer than six "claims management" firms had got in touch offering their views on mis-selling and, naturally, their services to small businesses that might be due compensation.

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.

News
Candidates are facing tougher and weirder questions than ever in job interviews
News
Power and the glory? An artist’s impression of Hinkley Point C, which it is envisaged will start generating in 2026 and account for 7 per cent of British consumption
Environmentalists are far from alone in opposing an 'expensive mistake'
News
Sir Mike Rake
James Moore, Outlook: Pick a flotation candidate – any candidate – and you will find directors and owners having second thoughts.
News
Dave Lewis built a formidable reputation at Unilever, but some were concerned by his lack of retail experience
Alex Lawson looks at the changes Dave Lewis has made
News
Women and men stand in an office
Two economists have come up with a formula to quantify the gender gap
News
An investor reads a newspaper in front of an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage house in Beijing, China. China's major stock indexes sank more than 6 percent in early trade on Tuesday, after a catastrophic Monday that saw Chinese exchanges suffer their biggest losses since the global financial crisis, destabilising financial markets around the world.
Satyajit Das, Das Capital: The ‘Chinese dream’ risks turning into a nightmare for its investors and its leaders.

News
Paddy Power is well-known for eye-catching promotional stunts, such as this balloon at the Cheltenham Festival
Outlook: It isn’t hard to see Paddy Power and Betfair's investors are excited
News
A view through smog over the 02 Arena and the Canary Wharf financial district in London. The BBC weather centre predicts a potential 8 or 9 out of 10 level of air pollution likely to be found in East Anglia and the East Midlands
James Moore:

“Sell in May go away, buy again on St Leger Day” runs the old City saying. 

News
Stonewall, which marches at London Pride, is working with firms in the professions to promote equality
Jo Bourke investigates 'prevalent' homophobic attitudes in the construction and property sectors
News
Spokespeople for the companies involved, including BHP Billiton, stressed their political neutrality
James Moore, Outlook:

The sort of name recognition enjoyed by the likes of Tesco or Barclays is not something BHP Billiton is ever going to achieve.

News
The Chinese stock market has faced its own 'Black Monday'
James Moore, Outlook:This is what happens when humans are replaced by computers.
News
Everything you need to know about the global stock market meltdown and what it means
News
Rupert Scofield, founder of microfinance institution Finca, shows Matthew Glynn how it has changed lives
News
Laura Wade-Gery, the M&S executive in charge of the company's 870 UK stores and website, is going on maternity leave, the retailer announced today
James Ashton, My Week After her moment on the front pages, Laura Wade-Gery should be left to get on with it
News
Online gambling operator 888.com is a client of XL Media, which specialises in driving internet users to its site
Jim Armitage, Outlook: The takeover battle for the Bwin.party online gambling company has had more twists than an all-night blackjack session.
Voices
A file photograph showing a HSBC corporate logo outside a branch of the bank in central London, England, 09 February 2015
Ben Chu, Voices : Aristotle was not a fan of interest rates but the father of Western philosophy nevertheless might have been at home in modern Britain.
News
Goldman Sachs Manhattan headquarters
Jim Armitage, Outlook: Next time there’s a financial meltdown, your money could be rescuing Goldman Sachs.
News
The Bank of England
Jim Armitage, Outlook:The British economy remains basking in the glow of super-low inflation.
News
The Bovis Homes building site in Cambourne Near Cambridge
Jim Armitage, Outlook: Bovis has confirmed it in black and white: Britain doesn’t have a hope of hitting the Government’s 200,000 annual housebuilding target. Ever.
News
In the aftermath of share falls in the Chinese stock market, there is increased focus on the wider effects
Satyajit Das: In the aftermath of share falls in the Chinese stock market, there is increased focus on the wider effects.
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Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future