By Max Clarke

Get Britain Trading, the brainchild of the Forum of Private Business, aims to raise awareness of the huge contribution small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) make to the UK economy.

It also aims to make that contribution even bigger — and help push forward economic recovery — by vastly improving the conditions smaller businesses are forced to operate under.

In order for the campaign to work, the Forum is calling on as many SMEs as possible to get behind it by visiting a specially-created website —

On the site, business owners are invited to sign up to the ‘Get Britain Trading pledge', which is an expression of support for the campaign and its aims. By taking a few moments to input an email address, business owners will receive a free practical guide filled with expert advice on common small business issues such as bank lending, late payment and cost reduction.

Get Britain Trading calls for number of radical changes to be made in order to allow smaller businesses in the UK to thrive, which in turn will boost employment and prosperity at a time of widespread economic uncertainty.

The Forum is arguing that if action is taken to tackle problems such as excessively complex tax laws, stifling workplace regulations and crippling fuel and utility costs, SMEs will be much more willing to create new jobs and spend money on products and services from other businesses.

Setting in motion this ‘ripple effect' of increased business confidence and investment is at the centre the new campaign.

Forum of Private Business Chief Executive Phil Orford said: "We want business owners across the UK to help to us help them by backing Get Britain Trading.

"We really believe this campaign can transform the small business landscape in the UK and free SMEs from the shackles of excessive red tape, mind-bogglingly complex tax laws and all the other things which can make running your own business a constant uphill struggle.

"But in order for Get Britain Trading to be a success, we need as many firms as possible to visit and sign our pledge. There are around 4.8 million SMEs in the UK so, if we all pull together, we can create an incredibly powerful collective voice which politicians cannot ignore."

During recent research the Forum, a not-for-profit organisation formed in 1977, found strong demand for a campaign aimed at improving small business confidence and trading conditions.

More than 5,000 Forum members were asked for their views in December 2010's Referendum ballot and 66% said that the year ahead would be no easier to plan for than the previous 12 months.

When asked about the focus of their plans for 2011, 35% said they were going to be focusing on survival and 28% on consolidation. Meanwhile, just 31% felt they were able to concentrate on growth and 3% on strong growth.

As a result, one of the key aims of Get Britain Trading is to put pressure on the Government to create the right trading conditions for small businesses to grow and become more profitable.

Mr Orford added: "It's important to point out that it's not just business owners who stand to benefit from our campaign. If you create more profitable and prosperous small businesses, you create more jobs, which is something everyone wants to see right now.

"By helping more smaller businesses to succeed and grow, you also create more competition and choice for consumers, so there's no reason why everyone shouldn't get behind Get Britain Trading."

Get Britain Trading will be an ongoing campaign which will lobby for small-business-friendly measures throughout 2011 and beyond. The Forum will focus on different aspects of the campaign in detail throughout the year and use tailored research projects to support its aims.

Open to Forum members and non-members alike, Get Britain Trading will also allow business owners to share ideas with each other and provide ‘good news stories' in order to spread positivity and confidence.

One small business owner who has already got behind the campaign is Forum member Mark Docker, who owns Manchester-based private investigations firm S.L.S. Investigations.

Mr Docker said: "There is a real lack of confidence within the business community at the moment which has been noticeable for the last couple of years.

"I hope that Get Britain Trading will play its part in providing a positive message and will increase business and consumer confidence."

Fellow Forum member Ian Gordon, of Cheshire-based interpreting firm Peak Translations Ltd, added: "Business is all about confidence and this is what I hope Get Britain Trading will achieve.

"If the campaign succeeds in increasing levels of confidence it will help to revitalise the British economy."