Graham Birse: It’s vital we offer support needed

IT is not unusual to see a surge of business start-ups in a post-recession period as individuals and companies are restructured and redundancies are high. People are inclined to bite the bullet and it’s great that in Edinburgh we have the highest levels of business start-up and sustainability in Scotland.

However, new businesses are more vulnerable to closure in their first two years than at any other time and so it’s important the they receive the support and understanding they need. That means joining networks like the Chamber of Commerce, focusing on financial management and cash flow, ensuring you have the right people advising you, and working hard to deliver for your customers.Small businesses also need more understanding from local and national government, less regulation and red tape, more mentoring and peer group support.

In the current circumstances, it will be a private-sector led recovery that will rebuild our economy and support employment.

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Tough times lie immediately ahead for many businesses, though, and the Chamber of Commerce will make its voice heard on behalf of members who are baffled by bureaucracy, frustrated by regulation and constrained by indirect taxation.

When I talk to businesses about the factors inhibiting their growth, they talk about lack of finance, taxation, regulation and red tape as serious constraints. At UK, European and Scottish Government level, we need to see evidence of the state in retreat. It has been a long time coming.

• Graham Birse is managing director of the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce