Assessing the Effectiveness of Small Business Communication. Report for. The Scottish Government and the Federation of Small Businesses

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1 Assessing the Effectiveness of Small Business Communication Report for The Scottish Government and the Federation of Small Businesses

2 Contents Page Executive Summary 1 Objectives 1 Method 1 1 Introduction Background Objectives 3 2 Method Business survey Analysis Comparative review of campaigns 5 3 Business Survey Findings Survey population Business location Trade industry and professional body membership Internet access Business information sources and methods of communication The effectiveness of communication 19 4 Information Campaign Findings The Fire Act (Scotland) The Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Act 2005 (the Smoking Ban) Skills Development Scotland 35 5 Conclusions and Recommendations Current developments Conclusions and recommendations 39

3 Executive Summary Objectives Method In summary The Scottish Government and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) wanted to understand how and where the majority of small and micro businesses, including those who are not members of business organisations, source information that is relevant to their business, and any issues they face in doing that. Frontline was commissioned to conduct the research. The objective was to gather evidence to understand: how and from where small and micro businesses source information important to their business how and from where they source Scottish Government information any communication issues faced when sourcing information effectiveness of different types of communication A review of recently delivered information campaigns was also completed to understand their impact on the small business community, and to gather evidence on best practice in communication. A survey of small businesses collected primary evidence about the effectiveness of communication from government and other national sources. Interviews were also conducted with campaign staff and partners representing the Fire (Scotland) Act, the Smoking Ban and Skills Development Scotland programmes. Survey responses were collected and analysed quantitatively and qualitatively. Interview feedback was analysed thematically. 405 unique responses to the business survey were received. Of these, over 100 were secured by telephone and 30 by post. The remainder were completed online. 84% of respondents completed the survey in its entirety, with the remaining 16% answering a selection of the questions, but not all. This is reflected by the variation in response rates per question, as highlighted throughout the report. The analysis in this report is based on the total number of respondents per question, rather than the total survey population. The survey shows that the small business community has a great appetite for both information and for understanding to help ensure that they comply with regulation or take advantage of available benefits, for example. There are failures in the public sector information market where businesses are overwhelmed by: volume too much information quality much of the information is out of date or not relevant Scottish Government has the opportunity to help resolve these failures and provide simple solutions that improve the effectiveness of future communication with the small business community. This will help improve performance through better informed decision-making in businesses and through more effective use of their time and resources. Full details of the conclusions and recommendations are presented in Section 5. 1

4 1 Introduction In February 2011 the Scottish Government, in partnership with the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), commissioned Frontline to conduct research that would improve their understanding of how, and where, small businesses in Scotland source information that is relevant to their competitiveness and viability. The main objective of this research was to inform decisions on the most effective means of communicating with the small business community. As of March 2011, small businesses represented 98% of all enterprises, and accounted for 41% of employment and 25% of turnover in Scotland. The vast majority of small private enterprises in Scotland are micro businesses defined as being those with fewer than 10 employees. There were 287,720 micro businesses in 2011, 211,420 sole traders and 14,190 businesses with between 10 and 49 employees. 146,175 of the 2011 total are not registered for VAT and there is relatively little detail collected at national level for non-vat registered companies. Table 1.1 shows the breakdown of micro and small businesses in Scotland over the last ten years. Table 1.1 Employee size band Number of enterprises in Scotland (registered + unregistered) (total UK employees) , , , , , , , , , , , ,925 58,405 58,490 58,905 57,855 57,880 59,010 61,105 59,960 60,185 58, ,610 15,835 15,695 16,125 15,915 15,925 16,180 16,580 17,465 17,845 17,400 Total Micro Businesses 224, , , , , , , , , , , ,935 8,915 8,430 8,370 8,290 8,225 8,705 8,870 9,270 9,760 9, ,835 4,750 4,940 5,035 4,965 5,080 5,245 5,250 5,180 4,805 4,635 Total Small Businesses 13,770 13,665 13,370 13,405 13,255 13,305 13,950 14,120 14,450 14,565 14,190 Source: Corporate Sector Statistics, Background The FSB is a member led business representative organisation that campaigns for a social and economic climate that is favourable to small businesses, and to entrepreneurial activity in Scotland. It has over 20,000 members in Scotland and offers free or subsidised services across many business relevant areas. While the FSB has more members than any other business membership organisation in Scotland, it cannot be expected to communicate, on behalf of the public sector, to the 280,000 small businesses that are not FSB members. Previous research carried out by the FSB recommended that: awareness of the range of support available to small and micro businesses should be improved (Research into job losses in small and micro businesses, FSB, 2009) This prompted discussion between the FSB and the Scottish Government on the value of gaining a better understanding of information sources and channels used and trusted by small businesses. This was considered essential to better understanding the effectiveness of local and national business information sources. 2

5 1.2 Objectives The research had four main objectives to identify: how and from where small and micro businesses source information important to their business how and from where they source Scottish Government information any communication issues faced when sourcing information effectiveness of different types of communication A key challenge for this research was to reach out to all small and micro businesses, i.e. not only those that are already actively engaged with member organisations. The Scottish Government was also interested in understanding whether the research findings would vary with factors including: business owner gender, ethnicity and age business size, type, sector and age geography location urban / rural A supporting objective was to review previous information campaigns, to understand their effectiveness and impact on the small business community. This review aimed to: identify the differences in the dissemination of information across campaigns compare the approach used for communicating legislative changes with those used for promoting voluntary changes in behaviour identify methods used for communication and awareness raising rate the effectiveness of communications for each campaign identify opportunities for improvement collate any lessons learned identify areas of good practice The overarching objective of this research was to improve understanding of the most effective means of communicating with the small business community in the future. 3

6 2 Method 2.1 Business survey Survey design Survey approach 2.2 Analysis A survey of small businesses collected primary evidence about the effectiveness of communication from government and other national sources. At least 384 survey responses were required from the 290,870 Scottish small businesses population to gain a representative sample of small and micro businesses. This was calculated using a 5% margin of error, based on a worst case response distribution of 50% and a confidence level of 95%. Using an anticipated return rate of 5%, around 8,000 businesses required to be targeted to yield the minimum response rate. The survey was designed in consultation with the FSB and Scottish Government. This was then uploaded to Survey Monkey, an online surveying tool. The survey was kept succinct and easy to understand to engage as wide an audience as possible. A copy of the survey is presented in Appendix 1. In the initial stages the FSB provided a list of 20 members to allow us to pilot the survey and fine tune where necessary. Thereafter, electronic, telephone and postal surveying was used to attract responses from as large a group as possible. Business contact details were sourced through Experian, providing over 1,500 addresses and 2,000 telephone numbers and postal addresses. Over 80 business associations and umbrella organisations were also contacted to gain access to their members, including: Prince s Scottish Youth Business Trust Business Gateway Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations Institute of Asian Professionals Scottish Family Business Association range of trade and industry organisations The range of sources helped secure a representative sample of businesses. Organisations where small business representatives were likely to drop in for advice were identified and supplied with a FREEPOST address for returning paper surveys. A sample of businesses from high street locations and innovation parks was also targeted. The e-survey was live for ten weeks to achieve the required response rate. Frontline s Excel-based survey tool was used to analyse the raw data, both qualitatively and quantitatively. The analysis was illustrated with graphs and diagrams as appropriate. Respondent comments and anecdotes have been used to provide greater depth. The analysis was aligned with the research objectives. In addition, a number of themes were explored: preferred methods of communication less popular methods of communication access to the Internet and how that may affect communication in future examples of information sharing information required for sustainability missing information 4

7 2.3 Comparative review of campaigns Desk research The brief also required a comparative review of past information campaigns that were targeted at small businesses. Comparison had to be made of campaigns where either mandatory or voluntary changes of behaviour were being promoted. Two of these were on a major regulatory change: Fire Act (Scotland ) 2005 The Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Act 2005 (the Smoking Ban) We also examined three Skills Development Scotland (SDS) campaigns which were designed to start voluntary behavioural change in business: Modern Apprenticeship Placement Scheme Flexible Training Opportunity Employer Recruitment Incentive We undertook desk research to gather information about the campaigns, with specific emphasis on their aims and objectives, and the success in meeting these Consultation with campaign staff Case studies Scotland was one of the early adopters of the Smoking Ban and received a lot of public interest and national publicity. It also affected those beyond the workplace, and public information campaigns were commonplace leading up to, and shortly after, the introduction of the ban. The impact on business information channels was taken into consideration throughout the review the Fire Act campaign was specifically aimed at the business community. It focused on ensuring that large at risk premises were compliant with the new regulations. Small businesses had new obligations under the changed fire regulations, and research was carried out to understand how they were targeted and how information was conveyed to them the SDS campaigns were selected as examples designed to promote voluntary changes in behaviour by small businesses. This enabled a comparison to be made between the approaches taken to different campaign types as well as their effectiveness We interviewed a range of campaign staff and partners to understand: what worked well what proved less successful target audience for the campaign response rates to the campaign partnership working methods of communication evolving trends in the use of new media by small businesses Full interview topic guides are included in Appendix 2. Campaign staff and partners provided details for a small number of businesses that had taken advantage of their services. This was supplemented by information provided by businesses that had agreed to further contact through our survey. This provided anecdotal evidence on how small businesses have engaged with, and benefitted from past campaigns. Case studies are included in Appendix 3. 5

8 3 Business Survey Findings 3.1 Survey population In designing this research, it was thought that collecting the views of small and micro businesses in Scotland would be difficult because of potential constraining factors such as: lack of Internet access in business premises reliance on keeping telephone lines free for customers limited capacity of human resources business survival priorities From the original estimates, it was expected that to reach the target response rate of 384, a business population of 8,000 would need to be invited to participate. Due to initial low rates of participation, over 15,700 individual businesses were targeted to achieve the desired response rate. The total targeted population was given an extra boost via: additional assistance from trade and representative bodies to reach more of their members 87 trade and representative bodes were contacted, reaching out to 7,730 members placing links to our survey on websites including LinkedIn and Twitter 5,584 businesses contacted sourcing extra business details to increase the randomness of the sample through Yell.com 576 businesses contacted From this, we received 405 unique responses to the survey. Several notable points can be made from the early stages of the research: Respondent age and gender the inaccuracy of small business contact data currently available the importance of adopting a flexible approach to communication with small businesses the importance of trusted sources of information small businesses lack of spare capacity for non-essential activity Responses were received by men and women across all age groups, as shown in Figure % of respondents were male and 34% female. Respondents by age and gender Figure 3.1 Answered question: 405 6

9 3.1.2 Sector breakdown Business age The highest proportion of respondents was aged between 41 and 60 with significantly less representation from those under 20. This fits with the general makeup of the small business sector in Scotland, with few very young entrepreneurs and dominance by male business owners. The response rate across age groups and gender can therefore be considered representative of the small business community in Scotland. The majority of SME employer owners and co-owners in Scotland fall in the 35 to 44 (22%), 45 to 54 (32%) and 55 to 64 (29%) age categories. The proportions in younger and older cohorts are much smaller; just nine per cent were aged under 35 and seven per cent over 65. (Scottish Government, 2006) Responses came from business owners from a broad range of business sectors. The ten most commonly represented sectors are listed in Table 3.1. Table 3.1 Sector Responses received Business/professional services 72 Retail 56 Hospitality and tourism 32 Media, advertising, PR 29 Manufacturing 27 Food and drink 24 Construction 23 I.T. and telecommunications 18 Building services/engineering 13 Active leisure and wellbeing 11 Answered question: 404 Business and professional services accounted for the highest proportion of responses (18%), with many responses from business people who offer independent financial advice or consultancy services. Again, this is an accurate representation of the small business community in Scotland and incorporates the twelve largest sectors in the country. Respondents were asked to state the age of their business. This is because the requirements for, and effectiveness of, communication was considered likely to be different for well-established, as opposed to new start organisations. The responses received are illustrated in Figure 3.2. This shows a good spread of businesses across all ages which allowed us to test this hypothesis. 7

10 Respondents by business age Figure In summary Answered question: Business location The responses from the small business community broadly match the business sectors as a whole. This is an excellent outcome given it was attained through a random sample of businesses. Other observations on respondent profiles include: representative response rates across all categories almost a third of respondents were female lowest proportion of respondents were women over 60 greatest response from those in business and professional services least response from the leisure and wellbeing sector respondents represented businesses incorporated between 1868 and 2011 Responses were received from businesses in all local authority areas. The highest proportion of responses came from Glasgow (20%) and Edinburgh (18%). Fewest responses came from Orkney and Inverclyde. From a regional perspective, the pattern of responses shows a concentration from the east and west central Scotland. This was expected as the majority of settlements within those areas are urban centres. A smaller but reasonable response rate was yielded from the remaining regions. Figure 3.3 shows the top ten local authorities by type of settlement. Settlement types were established using postcodes and are in line with current Scottish Government definitions. 8

11 Distribution of responses by settlement type (top ten local authorities) Figure 3.3 Answered question: 253 As expected, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Renfrewshire businesses are predominantly based in large urban areas. All settlement types are represented across the local authority areas, with the majority of those in the Highlands based in remote rural locations. This highlights the variety of responses received, and the spread across all Scottish settlement types. Responses by settlement type were cross referenced with business premises type to assess the distribution of home based businesses across each category of settlement. There was an even distribution of home based businesses and businesses with official premises across all settlements, as shown by Figure 3.4. It also shows a higher proportion of home based businesses in remote small towns and rural areas. Geographical distribution of responses by business premises Figure 3.4 Answered question: 379 9

12 3.2.1 Business type and premises All business types were represented in the survey with greatest response from private limited companies and sole traders. Over one quarter (113) or 28% of respondents were sole traders which is encouraging and gives some indication that micro businesses are both reachable and willing to participate. Response rates by all business type are shown in Figure 3.5. Responses by business type legal structure Figure 3.5 Answered question: 400 The majority of business types have separate business premises as detailed below: not for profit 89% private limited 80% family businesses 73% partnerships 62% The majority of sole traders (73%) work from home. Over one third (37%, 147) of respondents in total stated that their business was based at home. This finding was important as businesses operating from other premises are likely to be faced with different responsibilities and regulations in terms of site safety and impact of legislation change Business size by employment A breakdown of responses by business size is illustrated in Figure 3.6, and these are representative of the Scottish business base as a whole. Of the responses received, 8 came from businesses with more than 50 employees (larger than the micro and small target). These responses were included in the analysis as they did not significantly skew the research findings. 10

13 Responses by business size (number of employees) Figure In summary Answered question: 400 responses were representative of the Scottish business base as a whole responses were collected from across all local authority areas majority of businesses were urban, with Edinburgh and Glasgow best represented over one third of businesses were based at home majority of businesses employed a maximum of four employees 3.3 Trade, industry and professional body membership Over half (53%) of respondents were not a member of a trade, industry or professional body (referred to as membership organisations in the remainder of this text). This is a good response rate as we were keen to access companies that were not affiliated to any membership organisations. The most frequently cited membership organisations were: Federation of Small Businesses (59) Prince s Scottish Youth Business Trust (19) Visit Scotland (16) Chambers of Commerce (12) Approximately 100 membership organisations were referred to in the survey responses. In membership by local authority, this varied from 12% in Aberdeen City and Shire to 56% in the East of Scotland. Participation in a membership organisation was least common amongst family businesses and charities or not for profit organisations. In contrast, a greater proportion of businesses adopting a partnership structure (26%) were part of a membership organisation. A full breakdown of results is shown in Figure

14 Affiliated to a membership organisation by legal structure Figure 3.7 Answered question: 377 Almost 50% of sole trader respondents were part of a membership organisation. This suggests that they are likely to be better aware of business news and legislative changes than was originally anticipated. This may offer scope for the Scottish Government to secure closer links with membership organisations to help convey messages to small and micro businesses more effectively In summary 3.4 Internet access over half (53%) of respondents were not associated with a membership organisation almost 50% of sole traders were part of a membership organisation family businesses are least likely to be part of a membership organisation there is an opportunity for the Scottish Government to become better affiliated with trade, industry and membership organisations as a communication route to small businesses in future 98% (345) of respondents stated that they had access to the Internet, with 81% (282) using it a lot for business purposes. Figure 3.8 illustrates the level of Internet usage for business purposes as reported by respondents. Only 2% (8) business owners claimed never to use the Internet for business purposes. It is worth noting that in a recent survey of 1,000 small and medium sized businesses carried out for the Scottish Government in autumn 2010 found that 25% of SMEs did not use the internet. The higher take-up rate shown in Figure 3.8 may be due, in part, to the fact that this survey was partly carried out online

15 Frequency of use of Internet for business purposes Figure 3.8 Answered question: 350 All home based respondents used the Internet for business purposes to some extent (Figure 3.9). Internet use by business premises Figure In summary Answered Question: 351 This shows that regardless of premises type, businesses actively source information via the Internet. It is worth noting that many respondents, who did not have access to the Internet in their businesses premises, accessed online information at home. higher than expected levels of Internet use across small businesses all home based respondents have access to the Internet and all use the Internet to some extent for business purposes e-communication is increasingly important for small businesses 13

16 3.5 Business information sources and methods of communication Respondents were asked to identify where they sourced most of their business information from a list of options provided. They were also asked whether they had used, or would consider using, those information sources. Respondents could select multiple options and the results are illustrated in Figure Sources of business information (%) Figure 3.10 Answered Question: 349 Almost two thirds (62%, 202) of respondents had used Business Gateway, and over half (56%, 175) had used a professional journal or membership organisation to source information. A third of respondents had used the majority of information sources offered as options. Around 30% of respondents had either never considered using, or had not heard of, the Scottish Government s website. 86 respondents cited other sources of information. Those most commonly referenced were: Scottish Enterprise / Highlands and Islands Enterprise Her Majesty s Revenue and Customs search engines Prince s Scottish Youth Business Trust Specific comments included: I read trade and industry magazines and websites voraciously, and network aggressively. If someone writes or talks about it, I will get to know it. I actively search for information rather than wait to receive it. Pulling information from a range of sources is more effective than waiting for it to be pushed out (which is hit and miss). I'm an active information seeker probably because I've only been in business for 18 months and still learning about the regulatory environment etc. 14

17 3.5.1 Valuing different types of information Respondents were asked about the types of business information they sought regularly, and if there were areas where they might require more information. Results are illustrated in Figure Respondents sought a wide spectrum of business information, with greatest emphasis on general business advice, regulation and financial support. Information sought by small businesses Figure 3.11 Areas that small businesses would like more information about included: environmental advice e-tendering technical advice marketing advice health and safety Answered question: 394 This demonstrates the small business community s appetite for a wide range of business information. One respondent summarised the need for finding the right kind of information: It is important to find the information which allows the business to grow, from potential funding to training opportunities and beyond. Respondents were asked about the value of information, and whether regulatory and legislative information was of greater significance than other business information. Figure 3.12 shows that half (51%, 175) stated that all information was of equal importance, with only 19% (66) rating regulatory or legislative information more highly. 15

18 The relative importance of regulatory v general business information Figure 3.12 Answered question: 346 This mixed response was explained by respondents who frequently talked about different types of business information going hand in hand, or that without one bit of information there would be no need for another. Respondents highlighted their need for speedy recognition of changes in regulation so that they could be certain that their businesses were compliant and up-to-date. Many also mentioned the need for more information about sources of funding, as complying with legislation changes can often incur significant cost. Business dynamics also play a part; as businesses grow or diversify they may be subject to different or altered versions of existing legislation. Therefore, it is not necessarily changes in legislation that prompt the need for information, as noted by respondents: All parts of running a business could be said to be equal as without one part the business will probably not be viable. For example, regulations may be bang up to date but if it is done to the detriment of sales then the company will fold. Equally the business may be very profitable but if they disregard regulations it will only be a matter of time before they fall foul of the law. Keeping up to date with law and regulation is important, but is too time consuming, complicated and often contradictory and conflicting. Whilst we try to ensure we keep up to date with relevant regulation, priority has to be given to core business activities which generate income. Being up-to-date with legislation was also cited as a means of demonstrating their ability to compete with larger organisations. It was also recognised that legislation and regulation can be complex and that tailored, simplified messages about changes in the law would be helpful for small businesses. Respondents were asked how news of a change in regulation might reach them if they were not actively seeking information. Over two thirds (69%, 236) stated that they would receive information via and 64% (219) through contacts in the industry. 16

19 Table 3.2 shows the top 5 responses to this question. Respondents were able to select more than one answer to this question. How does change in regulation reach you? Table 3.2 Source of information 69% (236) Internet / websites 64% (221) Contacts in the industry 64% (219) National or local press 52% (177) Trade / industry press and journal articles 48% (164) Respondents cited other likely sources of information, which included personal, industry and social networks. One respondent stated that whether or not news of regulatory change reached small and micro businesses was, in some cases, entirely due to luck: Regulation is usually dumped on to small and micro businesses despite the best efforts of FSB. With over 25 years experience in business, I have never known the public sector to successfully engage with small and micro businesses in the way that FSB activity of recent years has successfully managed to. Respondents were asked to give an example of positive experiences they had of accessing business information. The most commonly cited sources were: Business Gateway FSB PSYBT local authorities Chambers of Commerce trade and industry bodies websites (both sector specific and otherwise) Respondents had sought many different types of information. The majority of it was advisory on subjects and included: legislative financial human resource advice information around succession planning environmental business policies intellectual property protection Two responses are included as examples: Source of information FSB What kind of information did you get? [Regulatory information] [FSB has] a "crystal ball" approach to lobbying new regulation at an early stage. This gives the member a great chance to prepare for the oncoming regulation well in advance of just reading it in the paper that it will be introduced next week. What made it a particularly good experience for you? allowed me the opportunity to lobby my MSP about this and have a part in possibly making the regulation more appropriate to a small business and to prepare for it also. 17

20 Source of information Professional Contractors Group (website & newsletter) What kind of information did you get? Information regarding changes to tax proposed by new government, e.g. family business tax. What made it a particularly good experience for you? is a channel we use regularly. The PCG is very focused on the specific issues affecting small IT businesses, so it is all very relevant to us. Their s contain direct links to relevant articles on the PCG website. The most common factors contributing to a positive experience included: clarity of information use of practical examples information stemming from a trusted or official source comprehensive and easy to navigate websites timely, accurate information tailored service cost savings made as result of advice Respondents were particularly aware of the financial implications of seeking advice, and how access to information would help them run their businesses legally and more successfully. Many mentioned the availability of free support and how that had helped to develop their business. Respondents were asked which methods of communication they currently use to gather any information that might be relevant to their business. Respondents could choose more than one option when answering this question. The most common responses are shown in Table 3.3. Most common methods of communication Table 3.3 Source of information Speak to contacts in the industry 79% (270) Internet/websites 75% (258) Review trade/industry press and journal articles 66% (227) Attend events run by organisations within the industry 53% (182) Review national or local press 53% (180) As almost three quarters (74%) of the respondents use the Internet to access business information, they were asked to name some of the websites they currently use. The most frequently named sites are shown in Table 3.4 (not listed in any particular order). Most frequently used websites for business information Table 3.4 Google HMRC CIPD Visit Scotland Awarding bodies ICAS Direct Gov BBC HSE Scottish Government ACAS LinkedIn Local Authorities BERR Twitter Public Contracts Scotland FSB Facebook Business Gateway FSA Trade bodies Small businesses access a wide variety of web resources to seek out relevant information. The number of websites accessed emphasises their appetite for knowledge, and their need to get information from trusted sources. 18

21 3.5.2 In summary Business Gateway is well used and well recognised membership organisations and trade/industry publications are well used and trusted many businesses use Internet search engines. The extensive use of search engines presents opportunities for Scottish Government and partners to use these as a tool to proactively share business information 30% of respondents had either not considered using, or had never heard of, the Scottish Government website there may be scope for greater emphasis on the small business sector within the Scottish Government website businesses have a large appetite for information equal weight is placed on regulatory and other business information there was an assumption that regulatory information was more important and this does not seem to be the case small businesses respond well to messages that are clear and simple, particularly around legislative changes funding information is something that is very important to small businesses clarity of message, use of practical examples, easy to navigate websites, accuracy of information and trusted sources all lead to positive experiences 3.6 The effectiveness of communication Respondents were asked to rate the effectiveness of different communications media. Results are illustrated in Figure Effectiveness of media type (%) Figure 3.13 Answered Question: 339 Respondents stated that contacts in their industry were the most effective at transferring business information. This links with the fact that small and micro businesses rely on business networks to pick up news of changes in regulation (as previously noted). Of those rating this most highly, 51% (146) stated that they found contacts in their industry to be a very effective means of receiving business information. Relevant websites were viewed to be the next most important means of communication with 46% (116) rating them very effective. 19

22 The least popular were council facilities with 75% of respondents rating them either not very effective or not effective at all. Council websites were also ranked poorly. No discernible patterns were noted in the responses when analysed by gender, age or business type. Several themes came through the open response questions, including the fact that to trust information and understand the credibility of its source, small businesses were likely to either verify the detail with an industry body or seek further information from a better known online source. Many of the respondents using the Internet cited problems with conflicting information. Several respondents reported that unsolicited telephone calls would be unlikely to be successful in communicating valuable information as they are not viewed as credible or trustworthy Assessing the elements of information received Respondents were asked to consider seven characteristics of communication and to indicate which they saw as most important. Figure 3.14 illustrates that small businesses particularly value the clarity of messages, the relevance of the information received and the simplicity and style of the language used. The only element of significantly less importance was the option to access information in a language other than English. With 97% of respondents having English as their first language this was, understandably, not viewed as a critical issue. Assessing the elements of communication (%) Figure 3.14 Answered Question: 322 For all future messages, the Scottish Government must consider these six elements of communication as they are essential for the successful transfer of information, and in particular, focus on clarity of message and simplicity of style of language used. Most (81%) respondents now find more of their relevant business information through the Internet. Asked where they had looked for information, before the Internet, the most common were: newspapers journals trade magazines libraries Business Gateway word of mouth 20

23 Use of the Internet as an information and knowledge resource has been the biggest and most significant change in business behaviour in this context. Many businesses surveyed found it very difficult to recall life before Google and emphasised the importance of Internet resources for their business Trusted sources of information The Internet has enabled many businesses to find information that previously may not have been accessible. Asked whether there were any sources of information that they particularly trusted, very few respondents reported that they did not wholly trust any sources of information respondents could name at least one trusted source, the most common included: trade publications and online resources Business Gateway Government and local authority HMRC recognised umbrella organisations BBC lawyers and accountants The reasons for citing these as trusted sources ranged from experience to reputation. Many respondents sought advice from their peer group and professional friends. Respondents could also list sources of information that they felt they could not trust. These included: the media online blogs and forums organisations with political affiliations unsolicited calls or s Twelve respondents (6%) specifically named local authority and Government websites as untrustworthy, stating that these websites were often not kept up-to-date with accurate information. Eleven respondents said that any unknown or unfamiliar sources would not be trusted by them. This links back to earlier points about the perceived importance of the credibility of information sources for small businesses. The Internet, although viewed as a phenomenal supply of information, was criticised because there is often conflicting information. Most respondents reported that if they were unsure about the legitimacy of any information, they would go to a trusted source to seek verification. There were no discernible differences between trusted sources of information across gender or across business type Barriers to accessing information Over half (59%, 185) of small businesses respondents reported no barriers to accessing information. Of those who had, the largest complaint was that information could often be too complex or was not written clearly or concisely enough. 2 This was an open ended question and did not require a mandatory response, hence the lower response rate here. 21

24 Figure 3.15 illustrates that Internet access, issues with English and the rural location of some businesses has limited negative impact for business people. Barriers to accessing information Figure 3.15 Information too complex or unclear Don't know where to look for information In a remote / rural area with limited access to information services I do not have access to the Internet English is not my first language Number of Responses Answered question 180 Other barriers included problems in navigating some websites (including government and public body sites), where information is often too embedded in a website to find it easily. There was also some confusion over which public sector agencies have services to offer small businesses. This may suggest that developing a clearer message about what agencies offer would be of value to small businesses. Often a face-to-face meeting with officials 'in-the-know' is required - there is a high level of difficulty in achieving this - which constitutes a major barrier to the access of information. E-based information tends to be technical or administrative (i.e. there is a lot of it!), whereas most strategic or tactical information is obtained in face-to-face meetings and discussions. Open and fully transparent access to the latter is of critical importance to the success of Scottish business. Finding useful info on financial support for training, research and development is a nightmare. Everyone points you at websites where you can read about it and read about it you do for weeks. But all this work doesn't lead to an actual application. We need a dedicated service that researches the available sources of funding, locates promising ones, helps you fill it in and submit it. Small and micro businesses have to spend all their time to keep their business afloat. Proportional time spent on this sort of stuff is really difficult. Small businesses should be encouraged to engage in public consultations on new legislation. Consultations should include a budget to actively encourage small and micro business engagement with the process If over 80% of people in the UK are in small and micro businesses then they should NEVER be democratically disadvantaged. Time was also noted as a barrier to accessing information. 22

25 3.6.4 In summary When asked to consider what might make accessing information easier, the most popular responses included keeping information simple, concise and easy to find. There is scope to consider how small and micro businesses, in particular, would use the information practically. The Business Gateway, HMRC and PSYBT websites were commended for providing a useful service, although respondents felt there is room for improvement. Business Gateway currently has an effective online service. Set up an account, enter basic business details and it produces a list of all the regulations that may apply. Each time you log in after the first visit, it flags any new regulations that may be relevant. It would be great to have something like this covering more. While there is a lot of information available to businesses through many pathways, small and time constrained businesses want easy access to it. It would be great to be able to tap into a databank compiled of advice around the effectiveness of different business strategies or approaches - for example if someone had tried a particular type of Internet marketing campaign there could be a database for other people looking to do a similar thing direct business to business communication and advice could be a good source of information. A small proportion of respondents make use of online social or business networks, which may already offer this type of facility. There may be scope for links to these services to be included within a dedicated government or agency website to raise awareness of them. I would like to see a one-stop-shop with a web page for each industry that is kept up-to-date. the use of the Internet has been the biggest change in business behaviour over time; many respondents found it difficult to remember life before Google although websites are a popular source of business information, they are not always trusted business feedback suggests that council websites are awkward to navigate there is much reliance on business community and industry led publications and event trust largely correlates with known sources of information resulting in business using and reusing tried and tested sources to gather a wide range of their business information a lot of information retrieved requires verification from a perceived trusted source there may be a role for Scottish Government to resolve this although all elements of communication are important, clarity of message, simplicity and style of language are most valued simplicity and ease of access is imperative the main barriers to gathering information are around complexity of information, and not knowing where to look for it 23

26 4 Information Campaign Findings 4.1 The Fire Act (Scotland) 2005 The Fire Act (Scotland) brought together three pieces of legislation that had been developed over a long period: 1. The Fire Certificate (Special Premises) Regulations The Fire Precautions Act (1971) 3. The Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997 Part III of the Fire Act (Scotland) was put in place in October 2006, and is the section that is relevant for small businesses. It requires those with responsibilities such as owners, employers, employees, managers and other occupiers to take steps to prevent and reduce the impact of fire, even if they have not previously held such responsibilities. The Act details responsibilities under health and safety which were previously not regulated. Much of this focuses on the consideration of, or completion of, a formal risk assessment of business premises. Traders working from home must also carry out a risk assessment and, although there is no legal requirement to submit paperwork, all businesses are potentially subject to inspection by local fire and rescue services, and so must be aware of the inherent risks and adequately mitigate against these in their premises The aim of the campaign Approach The aim of the campaign was to raise awareness of the Fire Act, particularly to small businesses that had previously not had any responsibility to comply with fire regulations. Most of these new businesses were viewed as being low risk in terms of fire, but needed to be made aware of their new responsibilities. Unlike other information campaigns reviewed, the Fire Act is a rolling campaign that continues to be updated and communicated to businesses across Scotland. A regulatory impact assessment (RIA) was carried out before the start of the campaign which examined how small and micro businesses would be affected by the new Act. The RIA was commissioned by the Scottish Government and was supported by the FSB and SCVO. The RIA helped to guide the campaign. Public relations (PR) also played a key role in drip-feeding information to the public prior to the legislation coming into force. It provided a call for the public to find out more about the change in the law, and how it would affect them. A small PR budget included press and news releases across different media platforms in conjunction with the eight regional fire services across Scotland. As part of the process of developing the marketing campaign, draft campaign materials were tested with six groups of representatives from small businesses. These groups made suggestions for improving the campaign so that it appealed to a wide target audience. It was concluded that a mass media campaign based on radio, press and billboard materials alone would not effectively target all types of audience members, in particular small and micro businesses and contractors. 24

27 Recognising the findings, communication of the new regulations used mixed media, including: radio advertising billboards newspapers FSB SCVO generic Fire Act (Scotland) address set up for FAQs booklets and posters distributed through Fire & Rescue Services Visit Scotland SE / HIE website online media Eleven separate fire safety guides were produced by the Scottish Government and are still available through the Fire Law Scotland website (www.firelawscotland.org); these are live and regularly updated. This website invited users to register as a way of accessing future sector guides and bespoke information. Within a few weeks of the campaign, approximately 16,000 employers had registered. The Scottish Government used a database of business contacts, targeting more than 156,000 businesses directly with a booklet, Are You Aware of Your Responsibilities?, to make the actions required of businesses easy to understand. As well as the campaign material, focus groups and workshops were run at a local level by the Fire Protection Association (FPA) for those wishing to learn more. These were predominantly aimed at small businesses. Around 30 workshops were run in the first three months of 2008 in venues across Scotland. Many of the workshops were co-hosted by The Scottish Centre for Healthy Working Lives (SCHWL) who talked about issues such as portable device testing and other fire related topics. The venues were organised by the FPA with support from an independent media company, and coordinated with the local Chief Fire Officers to promote the events. FPA developed a training video for carrying out workplace fire risk assessments which was funded by the Scottish Government and is available online. The SCHWL also produced a template for recording fire risk assessments. FPA currently use a version of this template and it is available through their website. The publicity campaign ran up to the end of 2006, although fire safety guidance continues to be written and updated. 25

28 4.1.3 Survey feedback As part of our survey, respondents were asked whether they received any information regarding the Fire Act. Figure 4.1 shows the results. Assessing whether respondents had received Fire Act information Figure 4.1 Answered question: 329 The majority of respondents (58%) had no recollection of receiving information about the changes to the fire regulations in Scotland, with sole traders being the most unlikely to have received information. Of the 29% of respondents who recalled receiving information, 80% had more than 40 employees. Figure 4.2 breaks down responses by business age. The majority (63%) of those stating that they had received no information about the Fire Act, were less than 10 years old. Almost half of these were three years or under (i.e. not incorporated when the campaign was running). Receipt of Fire Act Information by business age Figure 4.2 Answered question:

29 Figure 4.3 shows how respondents received information about the Fire Act. One third (34%) was through the post and almost 30% accessed information either through the Internet or via . Sources of information (Fire Act) Figure 4.3 Answered question: 98 Those responding other, reported information was accessed through trade organisations, membership organisations, local Fire and Rescue services or private networking events. Respondents were asked to express their level of agreement with four statements about the Fire Act information. These are shown in Figure 4.4. Fire Act Scotland statements Figure 4.4 Answered Question: 91 The majority (91%) of respondents agreed that the Fire Act campaign material was clear and easy to understand; 33% strongly agreeing with this. 91% agreed that the information was easy to access; with 33% strongly agreeing. 93% agreed that they understood what they had to do in order to comply with the new regulations; with 30% strongly agreeing. 27

30 Of 232 businesses that did not remember getting any information about the Fire Act, or were unsure if they did, 72 % (166) stated that they were not aware of the new fire safety regulations. Tayside had the lowest number of businesses who reported being unaware of the new regulations. 47% of the businesses claiming to be unaware of changes were less than 9 years old. Figure 4.5 details the remaining responses. Awareness of the fire safety regulations Figure Difficulties faced Answered question: % of respondents stated that the Fire Act did not apply to their business. This was particularly common amongst micro businesses. Respondents who did not think that the changes to the fire regulations applied to their business included those who were based at home and those who had separate business premises. Around 10% of respondents said that although they did not remember receiving information through the campaign, they believed that they were compliant with the new regulations. The remaining 19% (43) said that they were definitely aware of the new regulations, but not aware of the detail of the Act. The Federation of Small Businesses, the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations and Visit Scotland were all actively involved with the Fire Act from early development stages to implementation. Beyond that, engagement of other organisations was extremely difficult to secure. Poor availability of small businesses contact details made booklet distribution difficult to administrate effectively. There was a lack of understanding on the receipt of campaign material, and how many small businesses were missed. On a similar note, attracting small businesses to participate in workshops was difficult in some regions. Levels of attendance were not affected by rural or urban locations, or by the time of day workshops were offered. The main issue was with the media used to attract participants. It was noted that the effectiveness of particular media also change from region to region. 28

31 4.1.5 Good practice Impact Lessons learned Campaign staff believed that a professional and hands-on approach was taken to ensure that the campaign was a success. They also believed that it was extremely well organised and had a sufficient budget. Unlike the Smoking Ban (discussed in Section 4.2), there was no formal evaluation of the Fire Act campaign, other than to request anecdotal feedback from workshop participants and local businesses. Wide consultation took place for the Fire Act and this was viewed as very helpful in driving the campaign and ensuring that the approach was appropriate. The website proved very popular and was described as a good resource for the Fire & Rescue Services to ensure consistency of message across Scotland. All campaign material was designed specifically for Scotland which helped to target the needs of Scottish businesses. The workshops were viewed very positively; they were interactive and popular with participants. The FPA viewed the information video as being a very valuable asset, particularly as it continues to be accessed by businesses free of charge on the Internet. In their experience, the FPA viewed free online resources very positively. The template developed by SCHWL was perceived as very effective and continues to give businesses a consistent, simple way of carrying out risk assessment. Short case studies were created from survey respondents who were happy to discuss their experience of the Fire Act campaign in more detail. These are included in Appendix 3. The FPA suggested that new ways of working were helping to eradicate the fear around compliance, and of the old views of the Fire Service. These have also helped with the implementation of the Fire Act. There is a perception that campaign promoters need to have good local knowledge to ensure that the right information goes to the right people, as not all businesses are linked in to the same umbrella organisations. There was agreement that a small business information portal, freely accessible to all, should be considered for sharing information accurately across those who need it. 4.2 The Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Act 2005 (the Smoking Ban) In January 2004 the Scottish Executive published a tobacco control action plan, A Breath of Fresh Air for Scotland: Improving Scotland s Health the Challenge. The plan looked at the possibility of imposing greater controls on smoking in public places, in response to a growing body of evidence that more restrictions would result in a significant improvement in the nation s health. A consultation on possible changes in the law ran for six months with 14 events held across the country. These were open sessions for all interested parties. The consultation attracted more than 53,000 written responses. The findings showed that 82% thought that further action needed to be taken to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke. 80% of respondents said they would support a law creating smoke-free enclosed public places, with few exemptions. 29

32 Research into existing smoking policies within businesses found that most offices already had smoking policies. Blue collar occupations were less likely to have policies, but many did as part of their workplace health and safety regulations. Pubs and the hospitality sector were deemed to be the areas where most issues, or opposition, would lie due to the nature of their businesses. A voluntary charter to encourage businesses to ban smoking on the premises was introduced two years before the legislation came into force. This had little effect and 70% of businesses continued to allow smoking on site The aims of the campaign The task was to shift those resisting the new legislation, into supporters and believers of what the Smoking Ban was set to achieve. The campaign was designed in four distinct, but overlapping stages. PRE SMOKING BAN POST SMOKING BAN INTRODUCTION Education Belief Support & Compliance Reinforcement & Inspiration Awareness and understanding of secondhand smoke and forthcoming legislation Enhance belief in the benefits. Increase confidence in achievability Empower people to comply and provide necessary support Encourage progress Inspire further gains Educating Scotland meant challenging smokers perceived right to smoke in confined public spaces, and being able to compellingly highlight the real damage done to non-smokers health. There was a need to reach all businesses as, prior to the Smoking Ban, 52% of businesses still allowed smoking on their premises. The aim of the campaign was more than informing businesses and individuals of the ban, it was about successfully transforming attitudes in Scotland Approach The campaign targeted four audiences (general public, businesses, opinion formers and the media). Businesses were sent information packs that provided core messages around the purpose of the law, their obligations as employers, the implications of the law, and help and support mechanisms available. Businesses were targeted through: recruitment and business sections third party trade organisations vertical trades aspirational and well known entrepreneurs trades publications A mass media campaign distributed leaflets to all 2.3 million Scottish households, four weeks before the new legislation took force. A website for the public and businesses to use was created. It also highlighted the number of non-compliance penalties issued by local authorities from the day of implementation and beyond. This was at: and, although no longer managed, is still available for information. A PR strategy promoted positive messages about the Smoking Ban. The Government worked in partnership with the Health Alliance to help get public support for the ban, and to educate the Scottish population about the damaging effects of passive smoking. 30

33 4.2.3 Survey feedback This survey asked small businesses whether they had received any information about the Smoking Ban. The majority (55%, 159) of respondents remembered receiving information. Over one third (34%, 111) did not recall receiving any information; the remainder were unsure. The high level that did not recall receiving information may be as a result of the many channels used in the campaign, and business owners may have found it difficult to recall whether they received specific business information about the ban amongst the wider publicity. Of those who recalled receiving information about the Smoking Ban, 42% (73) reported postal. Almost one third (30%, 52) received information through general media, while only 13% were informed via Internet or . Other sources of information included: trade bodies membership organisations word of mouth local authorities The findings are presented in Figure 4.6. Sources of information Figure 4.6 Answered question: 175 Some respondents stated that their place of work already had a total ban on smoking prior to the new legislation. Others noted that as the Smoking Ban was such a public campaign, it was hard to avoid hearing about it. Respondents were asked to state their level of agreement with four statements relating to the Smoking Ban. Results are shown in Figure 4.7. Small business owners responded positively to the statements with 93% (159) agreeing that they understood what was required of them to comply with the Smoking Ban (41% strongly agreeing). 89% (152) said that the information was easy to access and 87% of respondents stated that the information was clear and easy to understand. Almost one third (31%, 42) of respondents said that the Smoking Ban did not apply to their business; this was highest amongst micro businesses with less than 5 employees and more recently established businesses. 31

34 99% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the Smoking Ban campaign material was clear and easy to understand, easy to access, and they clearly understood what they had to do to comply with the changes. Smoking Ban Statements Figure 4.7 Answered Question: 121 Of those businesses that said they did not remember getting any information about the Smoking Ban, the majority (59%) indicated that they were aware of the legislation. 30% indicated they were not aware of the detail, and the remaining 12% of respondents said that they were completely unaware of the changes to the smoking regulations in Scotland. Respondents who stated that the Smoking Ban did not apply to them included both those who were based at home and those who had separate business premises. A breakdown is provided in Figures 4.8. Respondents who agreed/strongly agreed that the Smoking Ban does NOT apply to their business, by business premises Figure 4.8 Answered Question: 42 The proportion of respondents indicating that the Smoking Ban regulations did not apply to their business was particularly high amongst those micro businesses with fewer than 5 employees. A breakdown is provided in Figure

35 Respondents who agreed/strongly agreed that the Smoking Ban does NOT apply to their business, by employee numbers Figure Difficulties faced Answered Question: 41 59% (85) respondents said they were aware of the Smoking Ban and that their business is compliant, but they did not recall receiving any information about it. The remainder of respondents were aware of the Smoking Ban but unaware of the detail. The likely difficulties with this campaign were pre-empted through research carried out before the campaign started identifying those groups likely to be most resistant to compliance with the new legislation. A Hot House approach was developed to deal with: smokers rural areas socially deprived year olds This was done using multiple street-level channels including wall mounted ashtrays outside public buildings with messages about second hand smoke, and table banners in student unions and cafes. Consumer lifestyle publications were also targeted to feature articles about the effects of passive smoking and case studies of non-smokers who have suffered ill health due to second hand smoke. As this campaign was run over an extended time period, much of the resistance to the ban was managed accordingly. The major tobacco companies were keen to foster beliefs that the ban would have a detrimental economic impact on Scotland and Scottish business, in particular the licensed trade. The campaign worked to secure business backing, taking the emphasis away from the licensed trade and building support for the ban at a corporate level. Support was also secured from third parties including Boots, Keep Scotland Beautiful, Cancer Research UK and local authorities. 33

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