engage magazine issue 007/\'08 - Page 49

RESEARCH 49 Economic and Social Research The question here is how much the Councils do in order to help small businesses to ease ‘their burdens’. The study reports the findings of 266 face to face interviews with Turkish and Chinese small business owners operating in various sectors including retailing, catering, professional services and manufacturing in different boroughs of London, and illustrates that there is still some way to go in terms of becoming more ‘customer oriented’ in service offerings. Some snippets of the findings are outlined below: The extent of the bureaucracy, in particular the paper work, in the Councils still appears to be tremendous. The Councils are not being seen as the facilitators of knowledge and advice or as collaborators. Instead, they are seen as creators of barriers to business owners’ entrepreneurial activities. There are concerns about the amount of the business rate paid to the Councils. The widespread view is that small businesses do not earn as much as they used to because of the extent of competition and the slowdown of the economy. In addition, there is not enough transparency in terms of informing business owners what these business rates are paid for. The general view is that high business rates are being paid in return for relatively unsatisfactory service offered by the councils. The Councils are being seen as the creators of ‘excessive competition’. A3 licenses issued to the business owners in the same line of business within a very close geographical proximity (i.e. on the same street) do not offer diversified choice to the customers, do not seem to help to improve quality and more importantly lead to a major struggle for all small businesses (competitors in the same line of business) to survive. Parking restrictions and tight rules and regulations continue to impact upon the businesses negatively. Crime, in particular thief and anti-social behaviour, appears to be a major issue in London. This has created anxiety among the ethnic business owners. Given that the resources of the police are limited, they are unable to respond to the crime reported by the small business owners swiftly. Therefore, small business owners are concerned about their own safety as well as the safety of their employees and customers. The research has also explored the possible suggestions and recommendations. What can be done by the Councils and Turkish and Chinese small business owners? Policy makers and members of local Councils should establish and use the right mechanisms to help the ethnic minority business owners so that these business owners can improve their skills in communication with different parties, more importantly with the Council representatives. For ethnic minority business owners, especially for the first generation immigrants, doing business in another country might mean a radical cultural shift in their business mentality. Specific workshops on country and council regulations can be helpful for these business owners. Because of the different level of language proficiency of ethnic business owners, these workshops can be delivered in multiple languages. Given the time constraint of the business owners and therefore their inability to attend t Rv&62FW6RG&rv&626&R'&F67BWF2&F6V2B6V6FVBF&VvWF2Ww7W'2B'VWF2B276&RFB6RWF2֖&G'W6W72vW'2&R7FFRV&ǒ7FvW2b7VGW&FFFBFW&Vf&RFWVVBFfR&WGFW"VFW'7FFrbFRT7VGW&RB'W6W72Vf&VB&Vf&Rf֖Ɩ&6rFV6VfW2vFFR6V6'VW2B&VwVF26V60F2VfW2ǒƖ֗FVBFRf"FR'W6W72vW'2F'F6FRFW"7FfFW2v6'FǒW2v'W6W72vW'2fBBFff7VBFfrFR6vr'VW2B&VwVF2BFGFVBFRv&62&v6VB'FR6V62ࠤ55TR4UdT#VvvRV