As some of our readers probably already know, Gradwell is a smaller business that has been delivering telecommunications services to other small businesses throughout the UK for many years. And as such, we think it is really important that as a company we remain current on what is happening in the overall business community, especially for small to mid-sized businesses. Since we want our blog to focus more on real conversations and not just about what Gradwell does, we thought it might be fun to provide a mini round up of business related news stories that we found interesting the last few weeks.


1. One in four small to mid-sized businesses fill talent void with apprenticeships (source: SME Insider)

A recent report by Albion Ventures confirmed that one in four SMEs currently have or are developing apprenticeship programmes to fill job roles that they haven’t been able to fill through traditional recruitment.

While it’s suggested in the article that the attraction of such schemes is primarily financial, there are actually numerous other benefits that implementing an apprentice programme can bring to your business. Hiring apprentices can help create a loyal, enthusiastic workforce, bring a fresh perspective into the office and bridge any existing skills gaps. In fact, we launched our own apprenticeship scheme last year and it’s been a resounding success. Recently we were even awarded the title of Best Business Employer of the Year for working with apprentices.

What do you think about hiring an apprentice? Is it something your company currently does, or is considering for the future?


2. Cash prize for the UK’s most flexible small business (source:

Do you consider your organisation the UK’s most flexible small business? If so, you have a chance of winning £1000, thanks to flexible working experts, Timewise. They want to champion small to mid-size businesses that offer more flexible work options to their staff and want to prove that small businesses are amongst the most innovative when it comes to employing staff.

Karen Mattison MBE, the co-founder of Timewise, stated, ‘There is an unfair and outdated perception that flexible working is ‘the enemy of small business’ – we want to debunk that myth.’

So what do you think? Are you a fan of flexible working? If so, get your nomination in by Monday November 24th to be in with a chance of winning.


3. Can a northern tech cluster take off? (source: BBC)

Gradwell is part of a thriving tech community here in the Southwest and we love all the technology innovation that comes from our region. However, what about the rest of the country? You may have noticed that we tweeted about this topic a couple of weeks ago, as we’re really excited to see how the government’s plans for a technology hub in the north of the country will pan out. The initiative will focus on five of the biggest cities in the north: Manchester, Sheffield, Newcastle, Liverpool and Leeds, and aims (according to the press release ‘to do what TechCity has done for East London) to put TechNorth on the international map’.

When you consider the technological strengths in each city, it certainly makes for an exciting proposal. Liverpool, Leeds and Sheffield have a number of gaming and digital media firms, Manchester has innovative new technology emerging from its universities and Newcastle is known for its software companies. When you combine all five it seems as though the possibilities could be endless.

For those of you based in the north of the country, what are your thoughts on the plans for TechNorth? Are you excited to get involved?


4. Britain’s smaller businesses are missing out on sales by looking too close to home (source: Business today)

A recent Worldpay study has discovered that, on average, 11% of online sales from UK-based SMEs are made from non-UK registered bank cards. The research suggests that the UK’s small businesses are missing out on ‘a potential windfall’ by sticking to home grown markets, instead of branching out to sell to buyers based outside the UK.

Worldpay’s data confirms that 17% of the small business segment are starting to look further afield for sales and that the US is a strong candidate for the next market to consider, which accounts for 19.2% of all online foreign sales. However, as 43% of all foreign spending comes from shoppers within the EU, it’s definitely time for small businesses to start expanding their horizons and opening themselves up to the worldwide market. How do you feel about this? What’s the makeup of your customers?

Thanks for reading, have a great week and let us know what you think.


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