BES to sponsor Women in Business Awards

Business East Sussex (BES) is delighted to be sponsoring one of the categories at this year’s Women in Business Awards.

BES is sponsoring the Medium Business Award which is open to all businesses within the Sussex area which is owned, part owned or wholly or partly run by a woman with 10-50 employees that can demonstrate exceptional performance, growth and market leadership.

Commenting on the sponsorship, Ian Smallwood, Head of Business Services at BES, said: “We’re delighted to sponsoring such a prestigious set of awards.

“We work with a number of female-led businesses throughout East Sussex and are seeing more and more coming through as women take the entrepreneurial route of working for themselves.”

To enter the awards visit:

There can be no doubt that women are underrepresented in the workplace and in business.

Statistics in America show that women are less likely to receive the first critical promotion to manager—so far fewer end up on the path to leadership—and they are less likely to be hired into more senior positions.

And, here in the UK, there has been a great debate in recent months about the gender pay gap – with high profile Radio 4 reporters discovering they are paid less than their male counterparts and big companies revealing their statistics on wages.

Higher rates

Government data has shown that 74% of firms pay higher rates to their male staff. Just 15% of businesses with more than 250 employees pay more to women than and only 11% of firms said there is no difference between the rates paid to either gender.

However, there are institutions and businesses which eschew this norm. To that end, the Women in Business Awards, organised by Johnston Press, are a celebration of women in the workplace.

March 8th also marks International Women’s Day (IWD) which celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women across the globe. This year, the theme of IWD is a strong call-to-action to press forward and progress gender parity. There’s a strong call to #PressforProgress motivating and uniting friends, colleagues and whole communities to think, act and be gender inclusive.

BES will supporting IWD on social media and is calling on all businesses in East Sussex to show their support for gender parity  and use the hash tag #PressforProgess .

Business East Sussex: our successful year in numbers

Here at Business East Sussex we had a great year in 2017.

But don’t just take our word for it. Check out our infographic  below. It outlines  how successful we were in helping businesses and entrepreneurs across the East Sussex region.

We’re delighted to say we agreed grants of £325k, helped start 12 news businesses and invested £1.25m in the East Sussex economy thanks to our grants and business support.

So, why not tap into the support we can offer?


Like In Situ Site Investigation did when it needed specialist equipment to help it progress its business. The St Leonards-based firm, which is a specialist in geotechnical and geo-environmental site investigation, bought a brand new Morooka rig which has been added to its fleet of specialist investigation equipment. As Phil Harper, In Situ’s Finance Director, explained at the time: “Working with Business East Sussex to obtain the £8k we needed for it was easy enough. Some forms, but lots of guidance on them. I’d definitely recommend for other businesses to use the service.”

If you’re an entrepreneur with an idea for a new business or an established company that needs help to grow then get in touch with us… we’re happy to help.

You can email us at or visit our website on


South East Business Boost sponsors Let’s Do Business Expo

The South East Business Boost (SEBB) – the chance to get £10k for your capital project – was the main event at the recent Let’s Do Business Expo in Hastings.

SEBB sponsored the breakfast briefing held by Hastings Chamber of Commerce which kicked-off proceedings ahead of the expo.

Dozens of business from across the county were told how easy it is to get up to £10k and YOU can too, see here:

Ian Smallwood, Head of Business Services at BES, said: “The recent Let’s Do Business Expo in Hastings was the perfect opportunity to speak to some key players in the East Sussex Business Community. If you have a small to medium-size business (SME) or are a start-up based in East Sussex, we could help you fund a wide range of capital items to help increase sales, improve productivity and boost profitability.”

The event, which was held at the Hastings Centre, also featured a range of informative talks including two sessions by Google, BBC’s John Young and a presentation by PRG Marketing Communications.

Routes to market and how you export

So, you’ve decided you want to export. You’ve picked your product or service and you have researched your market. But how do you get your offer in the hands of people abroad?

There are a number of ways you can do this. You can:

  • sell direct
  • sell via an agent or distributor
  • sell via license or franchise
  • or set up an overseas operation.

This is a BIG step and should not be undertaken without further extensive research. As the Department for International Trade (DIT) says: “To find out the best route for your business, be prepared to research and get advice on what’s already happening in your target market. You’ll need to determine, for example, where customers are currently buying from and whether it’s the norm to have local representation, such as a distributor.”

Another tip is to ensure your intellectual property is secured in the market you are trading in. Unfortunately, some markets are better than others. The export road is littered with cheap copycats. See our gallery of Top 5 rips off.

If you go down the route of having a representative abroad there are some other things to consider.

An agent negotiates sales on your behalf so your product or service is delivered directly to the customer. The agent is simply identifying and ‘warming’ up the customer in return for an agreed commission. Using an agent can be a cost-effective choice as the right one will:

  • know the market
  • communicate regularly with you
  • help to overcome language issues
  • already be working with potential customers.

Distributors buy products from you and then sell to their customers. You invoice the distributor who holds the stock, adds a mark-up and sells to the end customer. A good distributor will:

  • understand your overseas market and legal issues
  • bear the currency risk
  • provide warehousing
  • provide local after-sales support.

Fortunately, here at Business East Sussex we understand the complexity of exporting. That’s why we have linked up with DIT for an exclusive Breakfast Briefing. The event is being held next week on 19th September at Buxted Park Hotel.

This is not just another networking event. If you have an interest in working with international clients or suppliers and exploring new markets, this event will introduce you to the sources of support, help and finance that could make it happen for your business.

The morning will allow you to learn about the support available to you to start exporting or if you export already how you can grow your exports.

Specialists will be on hand to answer your questions on finding foreign markets, financing foreign trade and planning for growth.

To book your place see:

What to export… and where

So, you’ve decided to take the plunge and export.

But what should you export? You offer an array of products and services – which one of them is best suited?  And where should you sell too? Not being facetious, but the world is a big place – try and sell your product to the wrong market and you’re heading for disaster.

As the Department for International Trade (DIT) says you have to get ready to sell overseas. “Good preparation makes for great exporting. Making sure you have the right resources and skills in place before you start saves time and reduces your workload in the long run. It can also lead to larger profits and less risk for your company.”

Luckily, if you have decided you want to export abroad, Business East Sussex has teamed up with DIT to hold a breakfast briefing for those who are thinking about exporting or have made the decision to do it. To book your place at this FREE breakfast event – which takes place at the luxurious Buxted Park Hotel on 19th Sepember – click here.

But before then, here are a couple of pointers from Business East Sussex on what to do once you have decided you want to export.


As the DIT says: “First establish whether there are opportunities for your product or service outside the UK.”


All cultures are different and you need to think about what features of your product or service will really appeal to customers in the market you’re targeting. You should be prepared to research one or several markets. You can do this online but there is no substitute for visiting the cities or countries you want to trade with.

The DIT recommends that you:

  • assess whether the market is right for your product or service
  • gauge demand
  • define your target customer
  • understand the competition

Know your customers

You will have already defined the characteristics and type of customer most likely to buy your product or service on your home turf, but, what about your customers abroad?

Chances are, there will be some transferable characteristics – depending upon the market you choose to sell to. The DIT says: “To gauge the demand and size of the potential customer base, you’ll need to compile thorough demographic information. Contact your chosen country’s statistical office or a market research agency to get started using the research methods outlined below.”

Know your competitors

Again, you know your competitors here in the market you operate in. But what do you truly know about rival companies, or potential competitors, in a marketplace that could be thousands of miles away.  Are there rivals that also export the same product or service to the area that you would like to sell to?

This may highlight areas you could target, but could also indicate already saturated markets. But, too few competitors may indicate that it’s an unprofitable or challenging market.

Our top tips on business funding sources and the issues around it

It doesn’t matter whether it is the seed of an idea, a start-up or a mature business – there will always be the issue of funding.

Here at Business East Sussex we’re experts on funding. However a lot of SMEs struggle when they start out to source reliable funding.

Here at Business East Sussex we believe in finding the right money, putting it in the right hands and at the right time. But there are lots of different types of funding and they fill different needs depending upon where your business is in its lifecycle.

Below, you can click on our visual guide to funding, the various reasons why you need it

How to prevent a cyber attack

With recent high profile cyber-attacks, like the one which disabled the NHS and hit 150 countries, more and more companies are looking at their own protection and asking: is it enough? Here, Business East Sussex looks at what businesses can do to limit their risks in the event of such an attack.

It was the ransomware attack that brought the NHS to its knees.

The virus exploits a flaw in Microsoft Windows identified by, and stolen from, US intelligence.

But, if you keep your systems up-to-date, you should be safer than those that don’t.

Recent visitors to our Cyber Attack event in Crowborough were told first-hand how ransomware can take over your computer, lock your systems and demand you make a payment… the ‘ransom’, to release your files. They also learnt how to limit the risk of falling victim to such an assault.

Microsoft says it released a Windows security update in March to tackle the problem involved in the latest attack, but many users were yet to run it.

There are a number of easy-to-implement defences against ransomware which very considerably reduce the risk of attack and the impact of successful attacks.


Unfortunately, these simple steps to protect against ransomware are not being applied by either the public or organisations as thoroughly as they should be. These are:

  1. Keep your organisation’s security software patches up to date
  2. Use proper anti-virus software services
  3. Most importantly for ransomware, back up the data that matters to you, because you can’t be held to ransom for data you hold somewhere else.

Home users and small businesses can take the following steps to protect themselves:

  1. Run Windows Update
  2. Make sure your AntiVirus product is up to date and run a scan – If you don’t have one install one of the free trial versions from a reputable vendor
  3. If you have not done so before, this is a good time to think about backing important data up – You can’t be held to ransom if you’ve got the data somewhere else.

You can also download the latest security updates for a host of Windows’ products here:

Windows Server 2003 SP2 x64, Windows Server 2003 SP2 x86, Windows XP SP2 x64, Windows XP SP3 x86, Windows XP Embedded SP3 x86, Windows 8 x86, and Windows 8 x64.

As Ian Smallwood, Head of Business Services of Business East Sussex, explains: “We’re here to help businesses with whatever they need and that does not always mean financial support.

“In 2017 it has become increasingly apparent that this means helping SMEs with their cyber security and IT infrastructure. That’s why we have held an event on cyber security this year with an IT expert and it’s why we’re holding an event on cloud computing  in conjunction with Microsoft and Sussex firm Astec Computing.”

The event, which will take place 9.30am to 12.30pm on Wednesday, 24 May at Business at Ocean House, St Leonards-on-Sea, is aimed at managing directors and financial directors.

To express an interest in attending this exclusive event, businesses should visit:

Election 2017: SMEs should keep calm and don’t panic

Election 2017: SMEs should keep calm and don’t panic

Businesses are used to facing a number of different challenges during day-to-day trading.

A supplier could let you down or a staff member could call in sick. An invoice could be paid late or, in the worst case, not at all. It is problems like these that are all part and parcel of the nature of business.

But what do you do when something happens nationally that is so momentous it cannot help but have an impact on your business?

That is the reality of what businesses in Sussex have been confronted with following the shock announcement by PM Teresa May last week to hold a snap election on 8th June.

Elections cause uncertainty

There can be no doubt that elections cause economic and consumer uncertainty, which in turn affects business and it does not matter what size of company you are.

The recent development from Teresa May has already had an impact; the Pound rallied on the news, but conversely the FTSE 100, London’s blue-chip index, dropped as companies had previously benefitted from a weaker pound post Brexit vote. Meanwhile, Ernst & Young has reported that the number of profit warnings across UK listed companies has risen in Q1 this year vs Q4 last.

Commenting on the shock election news, Stephen Martin, director general of the Institute of Directors, said: “Businesses have to get used to being buffeted by the changing winds of politics at the moment, and will just have to endure yet another campaign. This must be used as a chance to properly debate what leaving the EU means for the long-term future of the UK, including how we continue to bring in the skills employers need.”

And he added: “While Brexit will inevitably dominate the campaign, there are also much wider questions that need to be addressed on the changing nature of business and work, automation and our ageing society. These can’t be ignored in the run up to 8 June, and the business voice must be heard in this crucial discussion.”

Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said he understood the campaign will focus on the ‘intricacies of leaving the EU’ to the General Election, and he added: “Firms will want to be reassured that the key challenges facing the economy will be front and centre throughout any election period.”

In last year’s U.S. election one third of SMEs claimed uncertainty was having an impact on their business in a poll which was published in the Wall Street Journal.

Do not despair, help is at hand

But if you are a SME in East Sussex do not despair. Help is at hand thanks to the team here at Business East Sussex.

Our team of advisors and mentors have seen it all, from booms to bust and back again. They are on hand to help you grow your business with advice, planning and investigating how to find extra funding.

There are a LOT of options out there. From match funding for growth related projects to innovation funding to test new ideas.

The wider world might be experiencing anxiety and uncertainty, but there is no need for you to. You have Business East Sussex at your side should you need help in starting or growing your business. Why not give us a call today.


Business East Sussex looks at the Budget

Growing a business is never easy.

You’ve had the idea; you have secured the funding and have been trading for a while. Business is going well and you’re making a profit. And then, all of sudden, something changes and it throws your business off track.

Nine times out of ten, that something which changes can be completely out of your hands. One of the biggest pitfalls a business can face is a change of legislation. And there are no bigger changes of legislation than when the Budget comes around.

According to Ian Smallwood, Head of Business Services, at Business East Sussex, the Budget was not a spectacularly ground-breaking one, but he warned there were some areas of that would have an impact on small to medium-sized businesses in East Sussex.

He says: “As budgets go, this was not a particularly exciting one. However there were some things that people should look out for especially regarding National Insurance and dividend tax relief.”

Here Ian runs through some of the changes that were announced in Philip Hammond’s first budget yesterday and – more importantly – how they can affect your business.


  • £435m for firms affected by increases in business rates, including £300m
  • Discretionary relief fund for worst hit
  • Pubs with rateable value of less than £100,000 to get a £1,000 discount on rates they would have paid
  • Rate rises for businesses losing existing relief will be capped at £50 a month


  • The main rate of National Insurance Class 4 contributions for the self-employed to increase from 9% to 10% in April 2018 and 11% in April 2019
  • The Class 4 rate is levied on profits of more than £8,060 a year
  • The increases, which will apply to earnings below £43,000, will raise £145m a year by 2021-22 at an average cost of 60p a week to those affected
  • All Class 4 earnings above £43,000 will be taxed at 2%
  • Class 2 National Insurance is to be scrapped as planned by April 2018
  • No changes to National Insurance paid by the employed and employers or to income tax or VAT
  • Personal tax-free allowance to rise as planned to £11,500 this year and to £12,500 by 2020.

Ian explains: “This news about the increases of National Insurance was the biggest part of the budget and it is really going to affect a lot of people. It seems the days of starting out as self-employed before moving over to a limited company might be over. This will have the most impact on potential business start-ups and other businesses in East Sussex.

“The increase on the personal tax-free allowance will also be of note.”


  • Reduction in tax-free allowance on share dividends from £5,000 to £2,000
  • The measure, affecting small business owners and investors, will come into force in April 2018, raising £2.63bn by 2021-2022
  • Dividend income paid on shares held in a stocks and shares ISA will remain tax free.
  • Measures to tackle abuse of overseas pension schemes

“Obviously the reduction in the tax-free allowance on share dividends will have an impact on people, but I think most have been expecting this for some time,” says Ian,

Les Cameron of Prudential, the insurer, said the previous dividend allowance of £5,000 allowed investors to hold around £150,000 in share-based portfolios tax-free. The cut in the allowance will reduce that figure to £60,000.

As Ian explains the dividend allowance cut from £5,000 to £2,000 will cost basic-rate taxpayers £225, higher-rate taxpayers £975 and additional-rate taxpayers £1,143.

It wouldn’t be a budget of course without some kind of increase on the pleasurable things in life. And yesterday’s budget was no different. Duty on beer, cider, wine and spirits will increase in line with RPI inflation. This will equate to 2p on a pint of beer, 1p on a pint of cider, 36p on a bottle of whisky and 32p on a bottle of gin, hopefully not enough to effect the burgeoning East Sussex Small Batch Gin Industry or the growing wine production in the county.

What’s more a mixer for your drink will cost even more! Yesterday, Hammond introduced a tax on drinks with more than five grams of sugar per 100ml which will be levied by 18p per litre, while those with eight grams or more of sugar per 100ml will have an extra tax of 24p per litre.


Why funding is fundamental to the development of your business

Finding funding for your business is something that many Small Medium Sized Enterprises (SME’s) seem to have difficulty with during their start-up phase, right through to the growth stage for their business.

Business East Sussex knows the importance of ensuring business owners are aware of the funding options that are available to them and how they can access it.

This feature focuses on just two of the widely accessible grants and loan funding schemes that are currently available for SME’s in the South East, starting with Low Carbon in the South East; LoCASE.

LoCASE supports businesses in the South East to lower their carbon emissions. The programme offers grant funding of up to £10k (40% of project costs) for lighting and heating systems, equipment, and software for your business.

To be eligible for this grant your business needs to be an SME, spend the full value of the grant on a project taking place in the South East, and secure 60% of the project costs in cash from private sector sources.

Secondly, there is the LEADER Rural Grant Scheme. This scheme aims to assist with funding for projects that generate jobs and allow for businesses to grow with the purpose of boosting the rural economy.

A staggering £138 million in Funding has been made available through the LEADER Rural Grant Scheme between 2015 and 2020 for businesses, farmers, foresters, land managers and communities. This funding goes towards supporting micro and small businesses and farm diversification, boosting rural tourism, providing rural services, and more.

There are a huge number of available sources of funding for your business listed in the ‘Grants and Finance’ section of our website.

If you would like to speak with someone directly, simply contact Business East Sussex for advice on accessing funding.

Designed & Developed by PRG Ltd