Umunna calls for SME term to be banished

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Labour shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna said he wants the abbreviation SME to be “banished” when talking about businesses.

The suitability of the term SME to describe small-to-medium-sized businesses has long been debated, especially on our sister website BusinessZone.

Speaking to Economia at the Google campus in Tech City, Umunna apologised to attendees at the Labour next generation entrepreneur event for the use of the term.

“You’re probably thinking, why apologise?” he said. “But I think we too often use that phrase and lump a rich variety of businesses together into one and talk about them as if they are all the same, when actually, they’re very different.

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About Rachael Power

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18th Mar 2013 09:46


I welcome this however I do think that it's already falling out of fashion anyway in favour of just 'Small Businesses'.

Small businesses account for around 50% of our GDP and employ 95% of our workforce, so it's long past time that our politicians, banks and other large organisations got real and started taking them seriously.

I'd like to see more than just soundbite rhetoric, though.

Gary Turner
Managing Director, Xero

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18th Mar 2013 11:09

how about some useful initiatives

how about a years holiday from business rates for new businesses and  or a NATIONAL scheme for NIC reduction for new businesses on a system like SMP

rather than this renaming nonsense - i seem to remember that the family house for the member for streatham is held in a trust . so he  a cert to suceed Ed Milli

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18th Mar 2013 12:28

You can't just call a fridge...

... "G", it's nowhere near as hip and trendy as "SMEG" and it totally spoils the schoolboy joke.

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18th Mar 2013 17:34

The extent of Ummuna's credentials as Shadow Business Secretary!

I don't believe anyone who runs a small or medium sized business gives two hoots about the term SME!

A sure-fire vote winner for Labour if it's included in their manifesto!

Does this chap have any credentials to comment on business?

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By pete_t
to soundadvice
21st Mar 2013 14:15

His credentials !!!

I agree with the "two hoots" bit - but credit where credit is due - This guy is clearly well experienced to comment on business matters - especially those of small businesses and the problems facing new entreprenuers.

Just to support this I looked up his credentials on Wikepedia - this is what I found.

"Having completed his studies in 2002, Umunna started his career as a solicitor at Herbert Smith in the City of London, which mostly acts for large companies. In 2006, he moved to the Central London law firm Rochman Landau to specialise as an employment lawyer, where he mainly acted for individuals and small companies.From 2006 onwards, Umunna began to write and provide commentary on the Labour Party, with a particular emphasis on economic and social issues. Umunna would usually do this in his capacity as a Member of the Management Committee of Compass, a centre-left pressure group and think tank. In 2007, Umunna worked as a campaign aide to Cruddas during his ultimately unsuccessful campaign to become the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party. In March 2008, Umunna was chosen by local Labour Party members to be the Labour Party's prospective parliamentary candidate for the Streatham. At the 2010 general election, Umunna was elected as the Member of Parliament for Streatham with a 3,259 majority - Umunna was promoted to the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Business Secretary on 7 October 2011."

Now doesn't that re-assure those of little faith - clearly a man of the people with an unrivalled background in small business - his experience, credentials and qualifications mean we must ALL listen to him (sic!!)


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19th Mar 2013 01:26

SME is an official term that is confusing as it's often misused

MPs talk about tax incentives for SMEs (assuming this means smaller businesses); the media uses SME as short hand for small business and some accountants claim to 'specialise' in advising SMEs - but this is all nonsense.

The official definition of SME (Small and Medium Sized Enterprises) includes those businesses with a turnover of upto £25.9m and upto 250 staff.

Official statistics from the Dept of Business Innovation & Skills show that OVER 99.7% of all UK businesses satisfy the definition of SME. The stats also reveal that around 4.5 million businesses in the UK rank as SMEs, so it’s not realistic to claim SMEs as a specialism.  

You can read more of my views on this subject here: Are we undermining the meaning of the word ‘specialise’?


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By pbray
20th Mar 2013 12:24


 I totally agree.

 Many SME's are simply owner managed businesses that have grown and they should not all be tarred as 'small' I look after many that are £30-50m turnover companies.

 We are thinking of re-branding and using the phrase Growth Businesses in the future as invariably that is precisely what they are.


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24th Mar 2013 17:39

and so it came to pass

NIC break !

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