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| 2 minutes read

2024 – The year of the SME

According to the Chinese zodiac, February marked the start of the Year of the Dragon. However, this year is doubly important for those involved in small or medium enterprises (SMEs) as the UK government has declared 2024 to be the “Year of the SME”.

Almost every business in the UK (99.9%) is an SME, supporting 27m jobs across the UK and accounting for £4.5tn of annual turnover. CityAM recently reported about the difficulties that small businesses face trying to grow and scale in the current economic climate, citing a new report from Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses UK Programme which noted that the number of businesses actively growing in both headcount and revenue dropped from 39,000 in 2008 to 36,000 in 2022.

By declaring 2024 the “Year of the SME”, the UK government is acknowledging the significant contribution SMEs make to the UK economy. Recognising the enormous challenges currently faced by small businesses, it has updated the Help to Grow website to provide a user-friendly one-stop shop for SMEs to find the information they need to grow and scale up. This includes advice on topics such as: setting up a business, writing a business plan and accessing funding; as well as advice and webinars on tax and employment. The website also offers a subsidised 12-week management course designed to improve SME leadership and management skills. In addition, a new Small Business Council has been formed to provide a platform for small businesses to have their voices represented within government.

These initiatives build on the support announced last year in the government’s Autumn Statement, such as a £4.3bn package to support SMEs with business rates, the Energy Bills Discount Scheme and an extension of Retail, Hospitality and Leisure relief. The British Business Bank also continues to provide government-backed financial support for SMEs in the form of start-up and other business loans.

It is encouraging to see steps being taken to support SMEs and, for the small businesses that can survive, their perseverance is often worthwhile. As Andy Fishburn, Managing Director of Virgin StartUp, said “surviving a difficult economic climate paves the way for business survival in the long term”. The dragon symbolises ambition, tenacity, enthusiasm and confidence, all ideal qualities for SMEs to succeed in times of a less favourable economy. With the support now available, 2024 could indeed turn out to be an auspicious year, paving the way to a bright and successful future for SMEs.

If you are thinking of starting up a business, you may be interested in our new podcast series “Setting up a business in the UK”, which covers everything from registration requirements to assembling a team, meeting tax obligations and protecting your intellectual property. Tune in and subscribe here.

Almost every business in the country is a small business (99.9%) who in turn support 27 million jobs across the UK, accounting for £4.5 trillion of annual turnover – which is why the government is making 2024 the year of the SME.