A healthy outlook

The statistics which accompany the UK small to medium-sized business sector look impressive: more than four million firms employing more than 12.6 million people - half the private sector workforce. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) account for over 99% of the total number of UK firms, and generate 52% of total turnover - more than £500bn.

They come in all shapes and sizes, from fast-growing start-ups to web-trading 'lifestyle' enterprises, from cutting-edge software or biotech to the

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