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Claire’s Column – Use Them Or Lose Them

Published on: 2 Dec, 2015
Updated on: 2 Dec, 2015

In this regular column – a must-read for all those interested in Guildford business – Claire Dee praises our small business community and asks local people to use them or risk losing them.

Claire Dee

Claire Dee

This weekend brings Small Business Saturday, a nationwide campaign to promote small businesses across the country and encourage us all to seek them out and use their services.

And given last week’s Spending Review (or mini-Budget as many are saying), they may well need all the help they can get!

Yes, the Chancellor extended the Small Business Rate Relief scheme for another year and offered a few sweeteners including additional new enterprise zones. But he also hit them where it hurt. In particular, gone is the Business Growth Service which includes its Manufacturing Advisory Service and the Growth Accelerator programme.

Tax returns get a makeover too, with small businesses expecting to receive digital identities by 2017. Good news on the one hand, but it could become burdensome if they are expected to report quarterly from 2020 as predicted.

As Guildford small business owner Keith Churchouse, co-founder of SaidSo online financial planning, noted: “In today’s digital age, the fact that every individual and small business will have their own digital tax account by the end of the decade is no real surprise, as the digital-by-default revolution continues. At, we’re all about embracing online financial planning, so we’ll be following this one with particular interest.”

On top of this, although UK small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are largely confident about future growth, with Surrey and Guildford a magnet for such entrepreneurial activity, it’s scaling up those businesses that’s key.

While the Institute of Directors welcomed recent business demographic figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) which showed the number of UK business births increased by 1.2% in 2014, it insisted the attention must now be on turning new start-ups into scale-ups: “With the number of business births outnumbering deaths in every single region of the UK, this is an exciting time for British business. We must now focus on turning start-ups into scale-ups. Still more than half of all new businesses fail to make it to their fourth birthday.”

The message then is clear: work with our county town’s small businesses to help them grow and develop into larger companies, as if you don’t use them, you could lose them.

Small Business Saturday takes place on Saturday, December 5. To find our more visit

Claire Dee runs her own communications consultancy near Guildford, and is an active member of the local business community including sitting on the Surrey Chambers of Commerce Board and the Institute of Directors Surrey Committee.  To learn more visit

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Responses to Claire’s Column – Use Them Or Lose Them

  1. Adrian Atkinson Reply

    December 3, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    Tell that to the GBC who seem hell bent on filling Guildford with national/multinational chains of retailers in a sector which is being more and more delivered via digital means and where the local, family owned independent is being even more marginalised.

    I bet the offices that are being planned are those more akin to the need of the 1970s rather than more communal, co-working spaces of 2015+ such as Greenhouse, Campus Cafe London, The Den, Hub,, Tobacco Docks, etc etc.

    This is the vision of offices Guildford should be looking at.

    However, none of this was visible in the Masterplan for the town centre which in my opinion was very very dull save for obvious suggestions like pedestrianisation and making more of the waterfront!

    Just because these were in it doesn’t mean the plan is a good one for the way society is changing.

    A great architect David Chipperfield dedicated a whole event in Venice to what he called Common Ground – but he meant lack of it.

    He was so saddened that architects (and you can read planners and the whole development industry) had become dislocated from society:

    Quote: “With this in mind, I was inspired to direct this Biennale towards concerns of continuity, context and memory, towards shared influences and expectations, and to address the apparent lack of understanding that exists between the profession and society.”

    Guildford has the chance to become the digital capital and evolve as society and technology is evolving.

    By all means let John Lewis come to Guildford but they can have the same space as Mr and Mrs Jones’ SME/shop.

    John Lewis could trial a new concept, a no-stock shop where all the purchases are made on-line and delivered to your door or your local Waitrose as can be done already.

    Let Guildford be the leaders not the followers of Kingston, Croydon, Slough or Farnborough and the big corporates making Guildford an identikit version of every other town centre in the country.

    What if……

  2. Claire Dee Reply

    December 7, 2015 at 10:56 am

    Thanks for your comments Adrian. Some interesting points! I’ll leave Guildford Borough Council to exercise their right of reply…

  3. Adrian Atkinson Reply

    December 9, 2015 at 4:02 pm

    I know GBC trajectory, would like to hear your views seeing it is your column and you were talking about supporting small businesses.

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