More than 100 businesses from the West Midlands, all graduates of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses programme, came together in Birmingham to discuss the challenges and opportunities for small businesses in the region.

Meeting with the Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, and others from the small business ecosystem in Birmingham, including Henrietta Brealey, CEO of the Greater Birmingham British Chambers of Commerce, the event today (19 March) was an opportunity for small business leaders to discuss the barriers to business growth and what SMEs need to succeed, say organisers.

The Generation Growth: Birmingham City Summit followed the publication of research in February by the Goldman Sachs 10,000 small businesses programme, which found that despite a boom in the number of small businesses around the UK, including in the West Midlands, fewer were able to achieve productive growth – increasing revenue and headcount at the same time.

Andy Street with West Midlands entrepreneurs at the Generation Growth eventLensi Photography
Andy Street with West Midlands entrepreneurs at the Generation Growth event

During the Generation Growth event, a survey of high growth potential businesses in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses programme was also released. The survey found that West Midlands businesses are very positive about their potential to grow; 93% expect their revenue to grow in the next three years and 89% expect to increase their headcount.

Asked about their priorities for government West Midlands businesses said they want to see a greater focus on upskilling the workforce (30%), reforming business rates (24%), improving access to finance (11%) and making it easier to trade internationally (11%).

In addition, more than half (56%) of West Midlands businesses also said that they want the government to focus on improving digital infrastructure rather than physical infrastructure.

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses alumni at the Generation Growth eventLensi Photography
Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses alumni at the Generation Growth event

Charlotte Keenan, head of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses UK programme, a free business education programme for high potential businesses in the UK, said:

“The West Midlands has a growing and vibrant small business ecosystem. However, like businesses across the country, many are finding it hard to scale. If we want to realise the region’s enormous, we need to pay more attention to what small businesses say they need to grow. In the West Midlands, the companies in our 10,000 Small Businesses programme are calling for support to access the right talent and upskill their workforce, business rate reform and easier access to finance.”

Gurjit Jagpal, Head of Goldman Sachs Birmingham added: “The West Midlands is a critical part of the UK economy. That’s why we are proud to have successfully established our office in Birmingham and why we’re holding this event to discuss what more can be done to support small business growth in the region.”

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