16/06/2010

By Jason Theodorou, Fresh Business Thinking

Business Minister Mark Prisk will be gaining a better understanding of the daily challenges of small businesses by undertaking a week of 'work experience' with a range of firms.

Mr. Prisk will begin his assignment by spending a day with DIY Kyoto, an energy company in Bethnal Green, London - before continuing his 'week at the coal face' in his own constituency of Hertford and Stortford.

Emma Jones of Entrepreneur Nation interviewed Mr. Prisk at the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills about his role with the coalition government, and his plans for businesses. The Minister stressed that he wanted to 'be out beyond Whitehall', to 'see what it really means to run a business'. He also wanted to make it easier for businesses to get hold of useful information.

Mr Prisk said: 'Most businesses turn to the people they know best in order to get different kinds of advice or information out. We've got to be realistic about what government can best do, and that's to fill that gap where there aren't opportunities, or contacts. If you're a home-based business, you need to be able to reach out to a wider network'.

Emma Jones interviews Mark Prisk (click to play)

The solution, Mr. Prisk suggested, was to 'modernise it... so that whether it's on your desktop at home or on your BlackBerry, you will actually be able to access key information where you need it'.

The Business Minister saw broadband as a crucial tool for small businesses, and emphasised the government's commitment to delivering super-fast broadband to all parts of the UK, including rural areas.

Mr. Prisk said:'We have quite a strong ambition, and Jeremy Hunt is leading on this - we want to make sure by the end of this parliament, Britain is the coutnry with best superfast broadband in Europe'.

He said that broadband was 'the key bit of infrastructure' linking small and home based businesses to customers and suppliers. Jeremy Hunt has said that super-fast broadband will add up to £18 billion to the economy.

Prior to his election as an MP, Mr Prisk spent 10 years running his own business consultancy - working with firms from the UK and overseas in the property, construction and environmental sectors.

His skills should be well utilised at DIY Kyoto, his first 'work placement'. Co-founder John Sawdon Smith joked: 'We are very excited. We need to work out how he can be best utilised... he could take things to the Post Office. We might ask him once to make the tea, to test his tea-making skills'.