THIS week the headlines have been once again full of David Cameron’s grand gestures and pledges to support entrepreneurs and small businesses. In Cardiff he attacked the “enemies of enterprise” and talked up entrepreneurial individuals as the UK’s only growth strategy.

Yet if you are an entrepreneur like myself then the chances are you aren’t cracking open the champagne in light of Dave’s “age of the entrepreneur” promises. For you, like me, will realise that beyond the rhetoric there is very little the government can do to make a real difference to our bottom lines.

The fact is that small businesses in this country can’t rely on the government – any government. Sure, there’s lots I’d like to see happen to create a better environment in which businesses can thrive but it’s up to each individual business to drive itself forward. Politicians would be better off advising entrepreneurs on the practical things they could be doing to help their business, instead of offering up empty catchphrases and straplines.

Cameron may be promising entrepreneurs a reduction in red tape and tax breaks for businesses that take on more staff, but his words seem empty. These promises are all very well, but it is impossible to take on new staff if the business is not running efficiently and covering its overheads. At the end of the day, Cameron is a politician: he can’t ensure each and every start-up is going to be a business success. What Cameron can do, however, is provide the right environment for small businesses to succeed.

As part of this process, I believe he should be helping start-ups and entrepreneurs with the basics. It always amazes me how many people are unaware of the number of free tools out there aimed at helping them dramatically improve their business. The next time Cameron makes a speech, I challenge him to talk about Google Places and other free ways that businesses should be using the web – but aren’t – in order to grow their businesses; or to highlight how call tracking numbers can revolutionise your marketing – but hardly anyone uses them; or how virtual assistants are a brilliant cost-effective and flexible way for businesses to grow without all the grief and expense of hiring staff; or how keeping in regular contact with your customers transforms their relationship with you – yet no one does it. I could go on.

Cameron is talking a good talk, and it is reassuring to know that he has small businesses’ best interests at heart, but the Prime Minister and his government are not able to ensure the success of small businesses. We, the entrepreneurs, are the only ones who can do that – and there are so many untapped opportunities for so many businesses. Much better that we focus our time and energies closer to home on things that we can do and control than sit on our hands and wait for Westminster.

Nigel Botterill is the founder of the online directory business and author of the business book The Botty Rules, published by Morgan James Publishing.

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