As Enterprise Minister, I’m privileged to be able to meet with small businesses across Scotland on a regular basis. The chance to engage directly with business is invaluable in learning more about the contributory factors to the many successes of our SMEs, as well as hearing about the issues that are affecting their companies. It is clear from these discussions that better communication is key both to sharing success and quickly and effectively resolving issues. Before I was elected to the Scottish Parliament, I ran my own small business myself for fifteen years – and so I have had the experience of what this means.
Government has a responsibility to keep business informed and that’s why we’ve been working with the Federation of Small Businesses in Scotland to find out how we can do this is the most effective manner.
We’ve published the results of a comprehensive survey of the way businesses access government information, the first time that we have undertaken such a study. The results show that the small business community has a great appetite for information and for understanding to make sure that they comply with regulation, or that they can take full advantage of available benefits – such as the small business bonus scheme.
But respondents also told us that there are failures in the public sector ‘information market’ where businesses are overwhelmed by too much information and information that is out of date or not relevant. Good communication has to be targeted and relevant. We are determined to work with business partners to ensure that our communications is fit for purpose. Increasingly businesses are accessing information online and the Scottish Government is already working closely with public sector partners to bring relevant information together into a single business portal.
I am grateful to the Federation of Small Businesses for their contribution and commitment to this joint project. I welcome the opportunity this provides to improve the effectiveness of our future communications with the small business community. And I am confident this will help improve business performance through better informed decision-making and through more effective use of time and resources.
The full report is available at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2012/07/4581