Features / Better Business

‘A better Bristol would include a more inclusive, independent vision for small businesses’

By ellie pipe, Tuesday Sep 15, 2020

The managing director of Steele Financial, a chartered accountancy firm based in Horfield, Ben Steele has created a new way of working with clients and is excited to help shape the industry to become more modern.

Steele is a finalist in the Great British Entrepreneur Awards 2020, which take place on September 23. The company is a member of Bristol24/7’s Better Business initiative, which aims to help businesses thrive while creating a positive impact on the city and its communities.

What inspires you to get up in the morning and go to work?
It is mostly the genuine passion I have for helping small businesses. Every day, we help these businesses grow and develop and leave the office knowing they have improved with our help. That, and having a fantastic team and work environment definitely helps.

What does a Better Bristol mean to you?
A better Bristol to me would mean a more inclusive, and more independent vision for small businesses. We have so many fantastic companies born and based here, and Bristol seems to naturally have and attract such great entrepreneurial spirit and talent.

Steele Financial specialises in helping SMEs reach their full potential – photo courtesy of Ben Steele

If you could pick one thing to change in Bristol, what would it be?
A combination of two things really. More affordable rentals (domestic and commercial) and better access and transport, to encourage people to shop at independents and small businesses. Business premises are still quite expensive, and currently puts people off starting a business due to funding restriction. This will inevitably see the continuing decline of our high streets.

How do you feel you, as an individual, can make a difference?
I am working closely with the City Business Library and Prince’s Trust, helping young people with business ideas, and providing free workshops. I have also visited local secondary schools to talk with students about alternatives to university, and how success can still be achieved.

In what ways can your company make a difference?
As a business, we encourage and assist many start-ups and entrepreneurs to start and grow businesses, including set up, funding and planning. Our company also champions independent SMEs and actively encourages other businesses to recruit trainees and give them a chance to develop and grow.

What do you feel is the biggest strength of Bristol’s business community (including private, public and third sector)?
What I love about Bristol is the community spirit. As a city, we love to help each other when push comes to shove. The shared notion of helping small businesses, including restaurants, shops, markets and more, is fantastic. We want to see each other succeed, and that is amazing.

Apprectices

Ben Steele wants to see more businesses get involved with training apprentices – photo of City of Bristol College apprentices at work, by Freia Turland

What do you want to see from the Bristol business community over the next five years?
I would love to see more businesses get involved in training and apprenticeships, in all industries. On top of that, I would like to see more of a system and structure to help young people start their own business as an alternative route post-school or college.

Too many young people feel like college or university is the only route, and anything else is a failure, and this just is not true. Bristol needs to champion this change and lead the way.

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What is your biggest ambition personally and for the city as a whole?
My big ambition would be to create and develop a platform and set of workshops for 16-24-year olds to learn and discover how they can start their own business, and what is required. A kind of mentoring platform.

Main photo courtesy of Ben Steele

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