Over the past year, FSB members have initiated and hosted a range of events and activities to support and raise the profile of independent businesses. These local events give self-employed and owner-managers the chance to get together, collaborate, share ideas and find new clients and suppliers.
With the backup of Kent and Medway Steering Group, members volunteer their time to offer a range of successful events. Here’s a rundown of the past year’s activity:
1. Lobbying – key topics with councils and MPs have included Brexit, Business Rates, National Insurance Contributions for the self-employed and local infrastructure. Thanks to FSB pressure the Government backed down on increasing National Insurance Contributions for the self-employed.
2. Events – from Bank of England roundtables to networking in Ashford, Dartford, Maidstone, Tenterden and Tonbridge, we’ve hosted 55 events and met more than 950 businesses face-to-face. Guest speakers covered topics such as Brexit, beer, cybercrime, dementia, investment and funding.
3. Women in business – FSB has hosted 22 women in business brunches and met with more than 300 women in business. Guest speakers have included bloggers, clothes designers, property developers and voice coaches. Driven by FSB Women in Enterprise Taskforce member Deborah Turner, the activity raises the profile of women’s contribution to the economy and supports women looking for flexible work options; inspiration and support in developing their business ideas.
4. Skills – members tell us when they recruit they can’t find the staff they need. In response to this, FSB led by CEO of Jobs in Kent Paul Andrews has devised a free two-hour workshop where business owners speed-network with students. As a result of these workshops called Skills 30:30, five people have full-time employment and local businesses have met 120 students for mentoring and internship opportunities.
5. Awards and sponsorship – we are proud to have supported the Kent Creative Arts Awards, Kent Press and Broadcast Awards, the Independent Business Awards and Grow Kent Business Show. FSB Kent also sponsored Kent Vision Live exhibition and the weekly internet Business Bunker Radio Show.
We are looking forward to rounding off the year with a reception at the Houses of Parliament, kindly hosted by Kelly Tolhurst MP for Rochester and Strood.
The year ahead
As we look ahead to 2018, we see that FSB in Kent will once again be changing the way that the membership is represented at regional and national level. “This is all part of the ‘Refreshing our Roots’ project which is modernising the organisation to make sure that we are truly representative of small businesses,” says David Miles, the FSB Director who chairs the Kent and Medway Steering Group..
“I have been an FSB member for more than 10 years now,” says Stephen Askew, FSB Kent and Medway Steering Group member. “Over the years I have seen the structure of the organisation and volunteer representation change. I have not always agreed with the way it has been done, but I do believe that now we are on the way to an exciting new structure that will allow us to be flexible, encourage a range of members to engage in new ways and allow FSB to continue being the biggest and most relevant business lobbying organisation for the self-employed and small business owner.”
David Milham, FSB Kent and Medway Steering Group member said: “I do hope that 2018 brings positive developments for all of our members and I do urge you all to use the FSB as much as possible to support you in your business journey. Either by tapping into your FSB benefits of which there are many – the legal advice or FSB Care or the new Cyber Protection – to attend an event and meet fellow business owners, or to get in touch and help us in our lobbying of Kent MPs to ensure the voice of small business is heard.”
To vote in the FSB 2018 Director Elections please visit https://www.fsb.org.uk/director-elections/director-elections-2018