Tomorrow's entrepreneurs

Giving every child an experience of enterprise by the time they leave school is to be a part of the new three-year strategy for the Small Business Service (SBS)

. Other aims include an enhanced strategic role for the SBS, boosting the profile of Business Link and ensuring a better regulatory environment for small firms. The strategy, "Small Business and Government - The Way Forward", is designed to encourage more people to have the ambition of starting their own business and give anyone who takes that step every chance to succeed. At its launch, Martin Wyn Griffith, chief executive of the SBS said: "This is a three year strategy with a long-term vision. We're fine-tuning the way we work in order to ensure a better engagement between government and the small business community. "The SBS will work as a centre of expertise, an innovator and an engine of change. Our aim is to encourage people from all works of life to want to start and grow a business." The strategy focuses on seven 'pillars' to boost the UK's entrepreneurial culture. They are: - building an enterprise culture – including helping young people gain an understanding of entrepreneurship through influencing them at school; - encouraging a more dynamic start-up market - a series of local enterprise events will bring together Government and private service providers to give potential entrepreneurs information about help available; - building the capability for small business growth – raising performance through boosting management skills and workforce development. Recent SBS research has shown the massive benefit that goes with taking professional advice; - improving access to finance – ensuring gaps in finance provision are met, through initiatives like Early Growth Funding and the completion of the Regional Venture Capital Fund scheme across the country; - encouraging enterprise in disadvantaged communities and under- represented groups – such as continued investment in projects through the Phoenix Fund. SBS targets are now in place to reduce the gap between start- ups in the most and least disadvantaged areas; - improving small businesses' experience of Government services – SBS will work with other Government departments and agencies to provide more joined-up services to small business and easier access to those services via a new Business Link portal; - developing better regulation and policy – SBS will work with the Small Business Council and the Better Regulation Task Force to ensure policy makers take full account of small business views. By March 2003 SBS will introduce a 'small firms impact test' to ensure that small firms concerns are considered at the very earliest stages of policy-making. The strategy builds on the Pre Budget Report paper Enterprise Britain: a modern approach to meeting the enterprise challenge and the joint Treasury and SBS Cross Cutting Review of Services for Small Business report, published in October. Welcoming the report William Sargent, Chairman of the Small Business Council, the body that advises Government on small business issues, added: "We are encouraged that our vision for the SBS as a key policy partner for Government Departments has been welcomed, and we look forward to supporting the SBS in its new role." MF