New Forest


Freeing up time for innovation will be key for growth of SMEs

Freeing up management time amid a new wave of compliance issues will be key for the growth of SMEs and innovation of businesses in the South as the UK approaches Brexit.

That was the message from business owners from across the region as they gathered at the inaugural Business Owners’ Forum Group at Eastleigh FC. The focus group has been spearheaded by leading accountancy practice HWB as a platform for business owners to share knowledge, experiences and solutions to today’s key business challenges.

The first meeting, led by HWB’s SME specialist Michaela Johns, heard that a stream of new legislation and associated compliance remained a challenge for business owners in the South. Issues surrounding complying with GDPR, auto-enrolment, plastics reduction and the National Minimum and Living Wage were discussed by leaders, with owners also concerned over their own succession planning and transition to new leaders.

Brexit and the impact on the employment market was also a topic at the forum, with discussions around potential employee shortages, the red tape of Visas in the other jurisdictions, and flexible working arrangements.

Michaela Johns, a Director at HWB, which is based in Chandler’s Ford and works with organisations across the South, said: “When discussing some of these issues business owners were rightly concerned over the time spent on compliance in comparison to driving their businesses forward.

“If UK businesses want to be at the forefront of growth and innovation then they need to free up valuable management time to grow and innovate rather than tick the compliance boxes. With the UK’s departure from the EU imminent, now is a crucial time for businesses in the South to overcome the challenges and grasp the opportunities for growth of SMEs.

“A key aspect of this will be business collaboration and exchange of ideas. The first forum was a resounding success and we look forward to many more.”

The Business Owners Forum Group takes place bi-monthly. For more information on joining contact

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