AS the local newspaper industry launches its highly acclaimed Local Business Accelerators campaign led by Deborah Meaden of Dragon’s Den, new research shows that Britain’s young businesses are positive about prospects for growth despite tough economic times but they still need advice and support.
The campaign, supported by the Government and private sector’s Business in You campaign and backed by the Prime Minister David Cameron as well as the Governor of the Bank of England Mervyn King, launches today.
More than 500 newspapers across the UK are joining forces to deliver a £15m boost to promising young businesses through free advertising and mentoring.
Businesses aged between one and five years old can enter LBA for the chance to win a free ad campaign in their local paper plus mentoring support from local business leaders. The most promising businesses will go forward to the national stage of the competition to win a year’s mentoring from Deborah Meaden and a local advertising campaign devised by a top London creative ad agency.
The South Wales Argus, is taking part in the scheme again this year and has enlisted the help of local businessmen Dylan Matthews, of the Celtic Manor Resort, and Matt Southall, of Newport-based recruitment company Acorn as mentors. They will join South Wales Argus editor Kevin Ward and the paper’s business editor Jo Barnes in judging the local entries to the campaign.
LBA national ambassador Deborah Meaden said: “With last year’s LBA having demonstrated the unique power of local and regional press to provide a meaningful boost to promising young businesses, I am delighted to be supporting the initiative once again.
“The campaign provided tangible examples of the real contribution that local newspapers can provide to young businesses across many different sectors, accelerating their development.
“Enterprise and entrepreneurism in the local community is more important than ever before and I look forward to finding another young business to mentor and drive forward.”
Last year’s overall LBA winner, Ilkley Brewery in Yorkshire, which is currently receiving mentoring support from Deborah, saw its orders in Leeds double as a result of the free LBA ad campaign in its local paper and the business expanded to take on two new employees since taking part in the initiative.
Research conducted by Toluna and campaign organisers the Newspaper Society reveals that a third of owners of young businesses expect some or significant growth in the next 12 months (35 per cent) with the majority saying they expected their businesses to perform at the same level (53 per cent).
Just 12 per cent said they expected decline. They cited high rent and rates, sluggish consumer demand, access to affordable finance, and access to advice as the biggest barriers for local businesses.
Owners were most likely to use local newspapers to advertise their businesses (22 per cent), followed by internet advertising (15 per cent) and directories (14 per cent). Local newspapers were cited as the most effective of all forms of advertising (49 per cent), followed by outdoor / point of sale (48 per cent), and internet (45 per cent).
Prime Minister David Cameron said: “The Local Business Accelerators campaign has provided tremendous support to fledgling businesses across the country and I am delighted that it will be running for a second year.
“Local newspapers play a vital role in their communities and are uniquely placed to support small businesses, giving them the boost that they need to grow, which is good for local areas and good for the economy as a whole.
“I hope more young businesses put themselves forward over the coming months and get involved with this innovative scheme, which rewards entrepreneurship and creative thinking in business.”
Businesses aged between one and five years can enter the competition in their local newspaper via the LBA hub – www.accelerateme.co.uk – before the closing date of November 16.
More than 500 daily and weekly local newspaper titles are registered to take part in LBA which aims to highlight how local newspapers can provide a meaningful boost to young businesses.