Telegraph Festival of Business 2017 will tackle the challenges that face SMEs



Here’s what delegates can expect from this year’s Festival of Business, which will feature speakers such as Waterstones chief, James Daunt, and MediaCom chairman, Karen Blackett.

What really keeps a small business owner up at night?

That was the question at the heart of a research report released earlier this year by the Telegraph and media agency, OMD UK.

Entitled Entrepreneurial Britain, it outlined some the challenges that small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) owners face, based on a survey of more than 1,000 entrepreneurs and in-depth interviews with respondents.

Those challenges were clear: a general lack of advice, support and information; difficulty in accessing funding; cash flow and late payment terms; red tape and Government regulation; finding and retaining top talent; building a strong brand; and finally,
work-life balance.

These aren’t issues in isolation; growing business owners must have a hand in all areas of running a company if it’s to survive and thrive, whether that’s mucking in on a new marketing strategy, or getting their head around what the latest tax legislation means for them.

Add to that current political uncertainties and Brexit, and it paints a picture of just how much there is to think about when it comes to launching and developing an SME in the UK.

These companies, the drivers of the UK economy, need support and inspiration.

That’s why this year’s Telegraph Festival of Business is called:
Helping Britain’s small businesses grow.

SME owners need, now more than ever, a helping hand: a forum that offers the practical advice needed to grow their firms at home, plus the insights required to build international trading relationships.

Now in its seventh year, the one-day event is a celebration of the best of British commerce – and will be held on Tuesday 7 November at London’s The Brewery.

On the festival’s main stage will be several panel debates and interviews with industry experts about the most important challenges that face business owners. Themes include: leadership (which will address delegation, leading through periods of change and overcoming failure); late payments (a constructive discussion that will feature voices from small and large companies); and cyber security, which will reveal the biggest threats that face SMEs today, such as ransomware, and the proactive steps that they can take to prevent the worst
from happening.

Speakers already confirmed for the main stage include Waterstones chief, James Daunt; MediaCom chairman, Karen Blackett; NatWest/RBS head of enterprise and business banking, Julie Baker; and Timpson chairman and Telegraph business agony uncle,
Sir John Timpson.

The Telegraph’s mission is to help its readers. The Festival of Business 2017 is about doing just that

More will be revealed as the event draws closer, but these bright minds will also be joined by small business owners with experience in tackling these issues: familiar faces who can offer useful case studies and actionable advice.

Alongside these main stage discussions will be breakout sections: hands-on workshops and Q&As where delegates can ask
questions specific to their SMEs, receiving a helping hand with issues such as winning new business (featuring top tips on how to pitch); financing (what options are available and how best to access it); and work-life balance, with four in 10 Entrepreneurial Britain respondents saying that they agree with the statement: “I feel like I work 24
hours a day”.

Speakers already confirmed for these sessions include the founder
and director of Gymbox, Richard Hilton (who spoke to Small Business Connect earlier this year about building a “rebel brand”); James Cadbury, the great-great-great-grandson of the legendary chocolatier, John Cadbury, and founder of Love Cocoa; and Alice Mayor, who set up Carnaby Street souvenir store, We Built this City.

Also set to return is the the Festival of Business Award, which aims to highlight companies that demonstrate true innovation and stellar growth.

The Telegraph has long been a champion of SMEs, and this award is an opportunity to showcase the nation’s most exciting firms. Hillary Graves, founder of healthy kids food company, Little Dish, and last year’s winner, will return to share her story since picking up the award. Stay tuned for details about how to enter this time around.

The Telegraph’s mission is to help its readers and the Festival of Business 2017 is about doing just that for those who have founded, manage or work for one the UK’s many SMEs.

In testing times, these firms – the engine room of the UK economy – require advice and guidance. The Telegraph, as the voice of
British business, will offer just that with this event.

The Telegraph Festival of Business 2017 is free to attend and will take place on Tuesday 7 November at The Brewery in central London.

Click here to register your interest



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