Government Funded Training and Support - Fight or Flight?
The FPB has been a key member of the SFEDI Lead Body since inception in 1995. Its participation on the Lead Body, along with its peers in other key small business organisations in the UK, ensures it has a strong voice in communicating what its member small business owners and those who support them need to know in order to succeed.
Guided by the Lead Body, SFEDI then ensures that the private sector and Government provide the right quality of advisers, programmes and products for small and home business owners to give them the optimum chance of survival and growth.
Yet, despite the efforts of SFEDI, FPB and others and even despite the fact that 97% of all businesses are micro enterprises and 25% of the adult workforce are self employed or running their own businesses, small and home business owners receive less than 10% of Government funding for support and training. Now this looks like discrimination if you ask me. Let’s face it - if we, as small business owners, are not getting our fair share of free or subsidised training and support, then management in our bigger competitors is probably getting more than it should.
The question I need to ask before mounting another campaign to get our fair share of Government booty is simple. ‘Are we actually bothered?’ The recent SBRT survey, showing low awareness and engagement of small business owners in Government-funded training and support, including via Sector Skills Councils and Business Links, suggests the answer is ‘No.’
Certainly, as Government consults on yet another Business Support Simplification process and Train to Gain will increase to £1 billion funding per annum in just over two years’ time, my inbox is not jammed with small business owners or their membership organisations demanding their rightful bigger slice of the Government funding pie.
I’ll have to whisper the next bit. Could it be that most small business owners no longer believe that any of the training or support provided by Government will be any good for them? Could it be that they don’t want to spend time with an LSC Skills Broker or Business Link Broker to diagnose their business needs and help them write an action plan? Could it be that they don’t then want to be signposted to an adviser, consultant or trainer who has no experience of running a small business?
One SFEDI board member, a best selling author on entrepreneurship, said to me recently: “let managers in the usual suspect, bigger companies waste their time and effort in securing government funding, training and support. We’ll just get on doing business and winning their customers.” I realise that as conspiracy theories go it’s not up there with most but I also have a sneaking suspicion that the Government’s new ‘hands’ TV commercials for Train to Gain won’t have as many small business owners signing up as the substantial expenditure would justify.
The serious point here is that perhaps SFEDI and FPB should design policies and programmes for Government that we, as small business owners, can use to build better businesses rather than trying to get a fairer share of existing Government funding or to re-engineer its ‘big company boiled down’ programmes, products and services.
We could save Government a fortune in infrastructure, personnel and marketing by helping them to use their (our) money to enable the people we work with and trust to provide us with the training and support we actually want. SFEDI standards can be used to ensure the quality and self regulation so that we get private sector support and training solutions for private sector issues and opportunities.
Let me know what you think as without FPB support SFEDI would not have become the standard setter and watchdog for small business owners it currently is. What can we do to help you get the government funded support and training you need? E-mail me at email@example.com