Failing to capitalise: It may well be that you are entitled to Government or EU assistance you don’t even know about, at least if Barclays’ latest research paper is to be believed. This found that only 20 per cent of small business owners who were actively seeking funding had even looked into the possibility of grants and loans from the Government. The EU has a number of grants for small and medium-sized enterprises, while the Department of Trade and Industry funds small business through Government schemes. For further information call your local Chamber of Commerce, Business Link or the DTI (0171-215 5000). In addition, the EU publishes a free booklet entitled Sources of European Community Funding. For a copy call 0171-973 1992.
New trade think tank: President of the Board of Trade Margaret Beckett is setting up a ‘think tank’ to produce a strategic focus for the Department of Trade and Industry. The aim is to boost the DTI’s role amid ‘turf wars’ between Beckett and other ministers. The new body is called the ‘future unit’.
Brand-building opportunities: Many manufacturers are missing opportunities by not integrating design into their brand development process, according to a new report by Landor Associates’ David Redhill and independent marketing consultant Lucy Davison. However, the report does admit that things are on the mend, with packaging design increasingly coming to the fore as a cost-effective way of building strong relationships with consumers. The report examines pack structure, brand valuation, protection against copycatting, opportunities from new technologies and environmental considerations. Building Brands Through Packaging Design: Key developments in European FMCG Packaging is available from FT Retail and Consumer Publishing for 395. Call Jessica Smith on 0171-896 2344.
The millennium bug: The millennium bug, which threatens to wipe vast chunks of computer memory in the year 2000, still seems to be overlooked in many companies.
According to a recent Information Technology survey by Lloyds Bank, 21 per cent of respondents expected only minor problems and 38 per cent no problems at all. Those respondents who had investigated the issue saw things slightly differently with 40 per cent saying action had been or would definitely need to be taken. Meanwhile, 33 per cent were aware of the issue but had not investigated it and most of the rest had not thought about it.
One-stop Internet shop: The Office of Public Service has just launched a useful looking Internet site providing more than 600 nuggets of information. These cover a wide range of topics ‘from making tax returns to dealing with employees’ maternity leave and fire in the workplace regulations’. Direct Access Government can be found at http://www.open.gov.uk/gdirect. Leaflets explaining how to use the site are being distributed to small business organisations such as Business Links and Local Business Partnerships. They are also available from the Better Regulation Unit at the Cabinet Office by calling 0171-2701958.