By Nik Butler
This weekend sees the return of Horsham’s 12th Annual Microbiz exhibition. I remember when it started. I owned a different company back then and I remember when we paid for a stand and exhibited for the day and we handed out free software and we took details and it was all very business networking, and business card swapping, and that was about it.
Years move on and opportunities change and having left that company nearly a decade ago I am again a freelancer.
With over 15 years working as a self employed individual in Horsham I would say my experiences of Microbiz has constantly been too little on value and too overly focussed on networking.
Given the upcoming layoffs and redundancies that will be the fallout from Novartis there will no doubt be a spike in local new businesses and the traditional networking and support groups will do all they can to latch on and direct those new businesses.
Some will succeed, others will fail, and all will continue as it has before. Outside of high quality, high speed, internet connectivity and small local manufacturing facilities Horsham has much to commend it to the freelancer and small business. What it lacks is the infrastructure to nurture and incubate start ups with a view to founding a framework for opportunity.
Strategies seem enamoured with the concept that we must constantly attract external interest yet the message is clear from those who live in Horsham the size and social temperament of the current community is more than adequate.
Horsham with its plethora of cafes and restaurants and its main line access to London and its proximity to the A272 for east and west travel is attractive for its commutability but commuters tend not to use the town Monday to Friday. Meanwhile the digitally literate, the co-working, and the freelance enabled find themselves constantly crossing paths in Horsham.
The assumption is that managed office spaces are sufficient for encouraging growth but they lack an appreciation of the motivation and drive of modern businesses. The office, as we know it, is becoming ever more redundant through the rapid growth of the mobile platform and cloud devices.
You are where you work and you work where you are. The question in setting up a new business is not your website, your bank account or your business stationery the question is; where is Horsham working?