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SMEs stealing a march

London South Bank University School of Business has won prestigious Small Business Charter Award. So why is this sector of the economy important for PQs?

June 2016

Small businesses accounted for 99.3% of all private sector businesses at the start of 2015 and 99.9% were small or medium-sized (SMEs). Total employment in SMEs was 15.6 million; 60% of all private sector employment in the UK. And SMEs’ combined annual turnover of £1.8 trillion represents 47% of all private sector turnover in the UK.
This sector is thriving and with a record 5.4 million private sector businesses at the start of 2015, an increase of 146,000 since 2014 and 1.9 million more since 2000, there is a massive opportunity for accountants to work to support the exciting growth in this area.
However, to be effective players within this sector accountancy training needs to be applied and focused as much on mind-set and the development of attributes such as resilience and risk taking as it is on the application of UK GAAP and other guidance published by the UK’s Financial Reporting Council (FRC). At London South Bank University (LSBU) this is exactly what’s happening.
Having been presented with the Bronze Award in recognition of support for SMEs by the Small Business Charter, London South Bank University joins an elite group of top business schools countrywide.
LSBU and its School of Business are located in a dynamic, diverse and rising area of London just south of the Thames. Recognising and embracing the fact that the majority of undergraduates supplement student loans by working enables close contact with many local SMEs. LSBU helps its students to see this as a great opportunity to design personalised futures, mutually beneficial to all parties while creating links with the local community.
Anne Kiem, Interim Executive Director of the Small Business Charter (SBC) and Chief Executive of the Chartered Association of Business Schools, said: “It is fantastic to see that the business school has helped many local businesses grow and have a focus on how they can help SMEs. LSBU has demonstrated high quality business support, engagement and research and the enterprise linking support to students particularly stands out.”
Over the past academic year, LSBU has supported 53 student and graduate start-ups and 130 business ideas. LSBU’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute also offers students start-up schemes, workshops, competitions and internship placements at a number of SMEs.
Receiving the SBC award Professor Mike Molan, Dean of LSBU’s School of Business, commented: “At LSBU our philosophy is very much to use the expertise in the School of Business to support the enterprise aspirations of our students as well as the growth and expansion of start-ups and SMEs in our local community. This award recognises our efforts to bring businesses, students and entrepreneurs together, to drive local economic growth.”
More than 70 SME tenants are based within LSBU’s Clarence Centre for Enterprise and Innovation, and hot-desking is also provided for students and graduates receiving support through the SPARK, ROCKET and Graduate Entrepreneur Scheme (GES) entrepreneurship programmes. LSBU places emphasis on stimulating, augmenting and developing future business based talents.
To enhance social mobility, networking opportunities, work experience and mentoring programmes for students LSBU works closely with a number of external bodies such as the Institute of Financial Accountants (IFA). Of the association with the IFA, the SBC Assessors said: “The area of work with the IFA is an area of best practice. The Institute itself comprises mainly sole traders and SME operators; it was apparent how much they value the relationship with the school.” Another strong relationship the LSBU School of Business has is with the Institute of Directors (IoD): “The close relationship with the IoD is a model for other business schools. The endowment is substantial and of great symbolic value,” said the SBC Assessor recently.
Potential employer, prospective student or those simply intrigued can find out more about enterprise opportunities at LSBU at http://www.lsbu.ac.uk/student-life/student-enterprise.
• Danusia Wysocki and Sarah Moore-Williams, LSBU School of Business

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