Micro firms looking at a mega 2011 start

BIG business may still be feeling the pinch as the recession refuses to loosen its stranglehold on the UK economy – but experts are forecasting a surge in micro-firms in 2011 as entrepreneurs look to strike out on their own.

The Yorkshire and Humber Business Link office is reporting an influx of enquiries about how to set up low-overhead, service sector businesses.

Home-based accountants, virtual PAs, and sales and marketing are all options proving popular among the potentially self-employed.

But concern over the impact of an increase in VAT, public spending cuts, redundancies and public sector spending cuts are evident as more budding entrepreneurs are focusing on low-cost ventures run from home rather than taking on overheads associated with offices and staff.

Head of Business Link Yorkshire's Customer Information Centre, Karen Marsden, said: "We are seeing a trend in pre-starts wanting to set up service sector businesses, involving minimal overheads, such as accountants or virtual PAs. There is also an increase in individuals looking to set up on a part-time basis over a six to 12-month period to test the water before committing to full time."

The latest figures from the centre show that over 60 per cent of inquiries to the region's Business Link team were from people thinking of starting a business. Access to funding also remains a key need, while help with business plans and cash flow forecasting, sales and marketing and web creation have also remained popular.

Other trends include more enquiries about financing a new business or developing an existing one, finding training to up-skill staff to help the business diversify into new markets and drawing up contracts of employment.

Queries about sales and marketing have also remained popular – particularly in terms of finding new customers. Calls about websites and online shopping options have also risen.

Meanwhile, Business Link reports a rise in calls from established businesses looking for guidance as well as an increase in the number of enquiries about debt and insolvency.

John Foley of PTSG

PTSG’s results are set to be in line with board’s expectations