By the time this article is published, it’s likely that the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend bank holiday on Thursday 2 June 2022 will have come and gone. Many of us will have taken the time to relax over the four day weekend with friends and family, attending street parties, watching the televised pageantry, and over-indulging in our favourite food and drink.
In the wake of the long weekend, there will no doubt also be an exhausted community of start up and small business owners around the country who have helped to make it all happen. Particularly owners of hospitality, leisure and retail businesses catering to the anticipated 1,458 public events and 1,775 street parties that took place.
National calendar moments based around the Royals, whether Jubilees or weddings etc., are of huge importance to small businesses because they provide an additional boost in consumer spending within the existing calendar. It was forecast that the Jubilee would see more than £800m spent by consumers on food, decorations and so on, to celebrate the bank holiday weekend. As well as being double the consumer spend forecast ahead of the royal wedding in 2018, it’s a testament to how meaningful these events are to the nation, given we’re in the midst of a national cost of living crisis.
It goes without saying that these bonus trading weekends for small businesses in the UK are few and far between at a national level, outside of the permanent calendar milestones such as Easter, major sporting events, Halloween or Christmas. It begs the question, what else can we do to support small businesses to succeed and thrive in our economy?
At Start Up Loans, we put a huge emphasis on the support we offer to small businesses beyond the loan that they take out. That support is completely free and lives on our website in the form of written guides on how to create a business plan, organise a supply chain, manage finances or create an effective online marketing strategy. Our Delivery Partners, who include The Princes Trust, X-Forces, Virgin StartUp and numerous others also provide 1-to-1 counsel, sound boarding and training to recipients of the scheme from the point of application onwards.
These efforts by Start Up Loans and its Delivery Partners are made primarily to help people have the confidence to say ‘Yes!’ to becoming their own boss and make the leap into business ownership in their formative years of success. However, despite being a source of great pride among colleagues and an impactful service, there is still more that could be done at a national level within the culture of lenders to support aspiring and new business owners.
Part of this is accelerating the work being undertaken to make application processes more accessible, whether across audio or visual formats. High street lenders could also do more to broaden the profiles of UK citizens they will lend to, who might otherwise struggle to access finance, which is one of the key reasons that Start Up Loans exists.
We could also think about what the great appeal of events like the Jubilee are to consumers. Beyond the Queen herself, why do they catalyse the national mood into one of community cheer and a willingness to spend, even during a time of hardship? A campaign by UK hospitality and business leaders recently called for the extra Jubilee bank holiday to be made permanent on the basis that it would “…provide a much needed – and long-lasting – boost to small businesses in the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors.”
While they’re no doubt right that it would provide a more permanent boost to these companies, there is also the contrary knock-on effect of other parts of the economy shutting down over bank holidays which can’t be ignored. While certain sectors might benefit in catering to consumers, others essentially lose a day of trading without a cut in their operational costs.
It raises an interesting debate and promotes dialogue that is vital for business leaders to engage in. Many entities, like Start Up Loans, provide fantastic support at a front-line level to individual businesses via direct support and guidance. Yet a problem so far unsolved is how we can more regularly channel the jubilatory mood of a major calendar event into more regular moments that support small businesses. Whoever can answer that question will do more for small businesses in the UK than the Queen herself.