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Roundtable Event: "A sense of optimism ahead of small businesses" 

Capitalise Nov 17, 2022

“Multifaceted problems need multifaceted solutions,” says Roan Lavery, CEO of FreeAgent as he kicks off this week's roundtable event.  

This Wednesday 16 November, we joined the roundtable panel to discuss their brand new research addressing the current economic complexities from small businesses. 

Roan Lavery (CEO, FreeAgent) invited Paul Surtees, (CEO and Co-Founder of Capitalise) to join the panel alongside Emma Jones (Founder, Enterprise Nation), Yogesh Dhanak (Senior Technical Advisory Manager, ACCA), Julia Kermode (Founder, iWork) and Mark Boulter (Chartered Accountant, THP Chartered Accountants). 

In a time of uncertainty and instability in the economy, these major leaders in the industry offered interesting insights and solutions that can offer guidance and direction to businesses and their advisers.

From implementing key technology to fuel business advisory, to discussing the range of support readily available to small businesses. Keep reading for a debrief on the main topics and themes.

“Small businesses are the backbone of the British economy” - Roan Lavery, FreeAgent 

The panel session began with a focus on some of the main themes found by FreeAgent latest research. The research gave a rather gloomy perspective to the challenges currently faced by small businesses and the concerns they have for the future. Worrying statistics highlighted that 64% of business owners feel that they wouldn't survive the next 12 months. 

The panel discussed the downcast picture, yet offered some optimism for the autumn statement this afternoon (Thursday 17 November). Emma Jones, Enterprise Nation, hoped for some extra support for small businesses as well as a sense of continuity. Explaining that the chopping and changing of economic policies, is a major source of stress and low confidence for business owners. 

What was obvious from the whole panel, is that small businesses are the backbone of the economy. And following the economic and political turmoil, accountants have a huge impact on how they bounce back and adjust to new complexities. 

“Small businesses are reaching out for support, more than ever” - Emma Jones, Enterprise Nation  

The panel discussed how they’ve seen more and more people looking to start their own business and look for support to help them take that leap. Emma Jones said that Enterprise Nation, small business platform providing expert advice and support, has experienced a 97% increase in engagement. 

There was a sense of optimism that although the chancellor will have a hard job to celebrate and champion entrepreneurship, he has the ability to implement changes that encourage a vibrant economy. 

Three buckets of support were suggested among the panel.

  1. Peer support: Businesses looking for support from other business owners
  2. Trusted advisers: Looking for accountants to help advise them on their business finance and help them reach their financial and business goals
  3. Mentorship: Looking for people with life experience to support and direct them 

The role of accountants was extremely clear as being one of the most influential streams of support. Yogesh Dhanak from ACCA states “accountants hold the advisory role, they are the experts in the field”.

Late payments, long credit terms, and rising inflation were highlighted as some of the biggest pain points making it difficult for businesses to make ends meet. Julia Kermode from iWork, suggested that tax changes, fuel costs and increases in minimum wage have been causing small businesses and freelance workers to make considerably less money than they were, causing a detrimental effect on their mental health.

So, what support are small businesses looking for? What can businesses do to navigate through? And how can their accountants use technology to look ahead and plan for the future?

“Where there are challenges, there are opportunities” - Yogesh Dhanak, ACCA 

Paul Surtees, CEO of Capitalise, supported Mark explaining “businesses are going to be squeezed. But there’s solutions and funding out there”.

Even though businesses are worried about surviving the next 12 months, the full panel supported that there are options and strategies out there for businesses to take advantage of.

When it comes to cashflow management and business planning, accountants can help business owners to put their best foot forward. From spotting challenges ahead, improving their credit score and accessing funding ahead of time. Accountants can use their expertise as well as technology to drastically improve how businesses navigate through the challenges ahead. 

Paul Surtees dived into the current market trends and the recession ahead. He gave an insight into the lending market and the changes that are happening when it comes to accessing funds and improving their affordability.

Paul explains “a businesses internal working capital, their debtor books, supplier credit and customer credit risks, all impact how they access external working capital”.

This alone helps accountants position themselves as a business adviser that encourages internal business health. From improving their clients credit scores to spotting cashflow gaps that need to be filled before they become a problem.


Small businesses are going to be facing pressures over the next 12 months, but with the right support, help and guidance, there's no doubt the small business resilience we’ve seen so far will keep stepping up to the challenge. 

At Capitalise, it’s so great to be part of an awesome eco-system that supports businesses and continues to champion and support them to succeed. 

Thank you to FreeAgent for having us!

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