Chris Hayward on making courageous decisions

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Chris Hayward
Credit Jamie Smith and City of London Corporation

Management guru, Peter Drucker, once said that: “Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.”

In the City of London, courageous decisions are the lifeblood of our economy and one of the most significant contributions comes from the local entrepreneurs and owner-operators of our Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs).

As the political leader of the City of London Corporation, vital to the success of my flagship Destination City policy – the growth strategy for the Square Mile – is to do all we can to improve on our economic dynamism, for the benefit of business and residents.

Entrepreneurs and SMEs play a key role in this, with the City boasting a higher concentration than any local authority area in the UK.

More than 21,600 call the City of London their home. And whilst our financial and legal service sectors remain strong, the tech sector stands out, having grown by 365 firms since 2019.

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It is, therefore, critical that our SMEs have the support they need in order to thrive, whether it be through access to space, finance, data, networks, or expertise. We are laser-focused on providing this, which is why we’re launching our first ever SME strategy.

Launched at Guildhall, the plan makes commitments to support local SMEs in five ways.

The first is through access to finance. We know the initial obstacle firms face is the need for capital to help them grow. So, we’ll be working closely with institutions such as the British Business Bank and Highstreet banks, to help them navigate the finance options that are open to them.

Second, is offering access to data, with our wide range of business databases, to empower them with valuable insights and help them mitigate risks and capitalise on growth opportunities.

Third, is access to space. We’ll be supporting growing firms to locate and expand in the City through activating empty units and meanwhile use.

Fourth, is access to expertise. We will build on existing in-house knowledge to strengthen the City’s offer and work more closely with Square Mile organisations such as the Company of Entrepreneurs, as well as offer free mentoring, in partnership with the Association of Business Mentors.

And finally, through access to networks, we will create a vibrant business environment by supporting networking opportunities and enhancing our existing events programme.

This represents a significant step towards making the City an even better place to start and grow a business. It sets out how Square Mile SMEs will receive unprecedented levels of support, ensuring the area remains the premier UK destination for starting and growing a business.

We have long recognised the importance of SMEs and the City Corporation has spoken of its determination to support them.

This has led to our Small Business Support Centre (SBREC) being established near Guildhall, which provides a range of free business support services for the City’s SMEs.

Now, we are renewing our support for them, and aligning this with our broader growth ambitions and the objectives of our new Corporate Plan.

In the City, total employment over the period 2016 – 2051 is projected to increase from 557,000 to 731,000, so it is crucial that our commitment to SMEs remains unwavering.

This strategy will ensure they have the support needed to thrive long into the future.

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