Some consultants say designers shouldn’t bother with paid creative pitches – they can be a sign of the client’s lack of knowledge, and most ideas end up in the bin. Tom Bawden reports.

New enterprise website: Small firms minister Barbara Roche is urging firms to make the most of the information resources and business potential offered by the Internet. She is asking UK firms to put their websites forward for possible inclusion on the Government’s new Enterprise Zone website. ‘We are keen to identify sites with good quality financial information. There is real demand for information on finding and making the best use of design,’ says Roche. The Enterprise Zone site has been developed by Microsoft for the Department of Trade and Industry; sites can be put to it for approval via Entries will be judged on quality, objectivity, accuracy, authority, coverage, stability, usability and currency.

SPI says it with an ostrich: The Society of Practitioners of Insolvency has published the Ostrich’s Guide to Business Survival to help firms avoid financial failure. ‘Our aim is to encourage businesses to adopt a policy of enlightened self-interest when it comes to dealing with companies in trouble. Not only could this reduce company failures but it would also reduce the domino effect when the failure of a customer’s business forces its suppliers into crisis,’ says SPI president Brendan Guilfoyle, of Leeds accountancy firm Geoffrey Martin & Co. Free copies of the A5 guide can be obtained by sending a large SAE with 34p postage to: SPI, ‘Ostriches Guide’, 4th floor, Halton House, 20-23 Holborn, London EC1N 2JE.

Marketing is top priority: Increasing marketing activity and ensuring business is adequately insured are the main priorities for small business owners during 1998, according to research from Barclays Bank. A third of the small businesses interviewed said they should plough more resources into marketing and nearly one in five wanted to ensure their business is adequately insured. Other priorities include reducing late payment of invoices (10 per cent), focusing on staff training (8 per cent) and updating or preparing a business plan (6 per cent).

Hague to speak at FSB conference: The Federation of Small Businesses will hold its annual conference from 20-22 March, with Tory party leader William Hague as a keynote speaker. The conference will also be addressed by small firms minister Barbara Roche and Commissioner in Europe for Employment and Social Affairs, Padraig Flynn. The FSB’s 24th annual conference will be held at the Chesford Grange Hotel, Kenilworth, Warwickshire. Among the topics to be discussed are the Social Chapter, access to finance, self-employment, unfair competition, the patent system and local government finance.

Sainsbury scholarships: David Sainsbury and the Gatsby Charitable Foundation is offering ten scholarships to contemporary designers in any discipline. Each gives 6000 towards setting up a retail design studio at Oxo Tower Wharf.

For an information pack, including an entry form, send an A5 55p stamped-addressed envelope to to Sainsbury’s Scholarships, South Bank Management Services, Oxo Tower Wharf, London SE1 9PH.

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