A European Director of a world-leading small business software provider has revealed why he is inspired by West Midland SMEs as he encourages firms to enter a competition offering a £20,000 prize package.
Mike Williams, Director of Finance, Europe, at Intuit QuickBooks, which sponsors Aston Villa, is heading up his company’s Small Business Big Success competition, which is in its second year.
Intuit QuickBooks, supplies up to 90 per cent of small businesses in the US with accounting software and is growing its customer-base in the UK.
Football fan Mike has shown commitment to the West Midlands through sponsoring Aston Villa after a years’ sponsorship of West Bromwich Albion – despite being a Bristol Rovers fan.
And this year the prize value of the Small Business Big Success competition has increased by £5,000 from last year’s £15,000.
The winner will receive £10,000 in prize money along with advertising and Aston Villa prizes. Entrants will also have the opportunity to attend a gala dinner at Villa Park on March 22.
Mike said: “The West Midlands is a hotbed for start-ups. Last year we had so many great entries to our competition that we decided to grow the competition and offer a bigger prize.
“We are totally passionate about helping small businesses to get to a place where they need to be. If you go back several years then accounting was a bit of a burden. Now we have cloud accounting which makes this a lot simpler and enables businesses to keep their focus on their customer.
“We are looking for entrepreneurship and passion. The competition is open to companies who are made up to just one person, to those who may employ up to 40. We can’t wait to hear all the stories.”
Last year independent cafe Boo Boo Coffee in Harborne enjoyed increased success after walking away with the top prize adding an evening service to their offer.
More than 99 per cent of the private sector is made up of small businesses which are the lifeblood of the UK economy.
The West Midlands was recorded as having the third highest number of new start ups in the UK last year – following Aberdeen and Bristol – according to the Start-up Cities Index 2015.
The data was checked the number of start ups in each city, comparing survival rates and weekly earnings and working age population.
Birmingham has also emerged as a hotspot for investors with the city dominating the retail sector following the opening of Grand Central at New Street Station and the enhancement of the Mailbox, according to a report by Bilfinger GVA last October.
The survey also found that the Midlands industrial sector has been extremely active soaking up a significant proportion of quality supply.
Barry Riley, associate at Bilfinger GVA, said: “The core sectors are performing well, with strong returns and positive yield compression demonstrated across the board. Headline rents are rising and lease terms are becoming more landlord-friendly through falling rent-free periods and fewer break clauses.
“The opening of Grand Central, the relaunch of the Mailbox and the announcement of Apple’s flagship store on New Street have been mirrored by strong institutional interest in investment opportunities like the hotly contested sale of Grand Central and strong bidding for Aviva’s Exchange Buildings on New Street.”
Businesses who wish to enter should visit www.quickbooks.co.uk/success where they are invited to describe their biggest success story and how they want to develop their business in 2016.
Entries need to be received before 11.59pm on Monday, February 29.
Entrants must be a legal resident or UK citizen, and be 16 years or older.
They must own a small business, defined by having 50 or fewer full-time employees, and registered with HMRC.
Entrants must either be the small business owner or an employee, submitting with the permission of the owner.
Their business must be based in the West Midlands county (comprising Birmingham, Coventry, Wolverhampton, Dudley, Solihull, Walsall and Sandwell), Staffordshire, Shropshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire or Warwickshire.
The winner will then be selected by a panel of judges including Mike Williams, Director of Finance at Intuit, Tom Fox, CEO at Aston Villa Football Club, Graeme Brown, Head of Business, Birmingham Post and Mail and Saqib Bhatti, President of the Asian Business Chamber of Commerce.
The winner will be announced at the gala dinner at Villa Park on 22 March.