Supporting and Strengthening London’s Small Businesses
Bloomberg Associates worked with the Greater London Authority (GLA) to develop and launch the London Wayfinder – a client-centric business support system to help entrepreneurs succeed.
The Wayfinder programme was just what I needed to get my brand off the ground and up and running.
Angela Campbell, Elizabethan Boutique (Southwark)
Spur Business and Industry Growth
- Small Business Support
London is home to more than one million small businesses. From restaurants to repair shops to dry cleaners, these everyday “neighborhood” businesses strengthen communities, provide local services, create jobs for residents, and serve as drivers of wealth building.
Even before the pandemic, many of London’s small businesses struggled. Since 2020, they have faced sharp drops in sales, employment and investment followed by higher price growth, elevated uncertainty and persistent supply disruptions.
Support for small businesses did exist in London, but navigating the vast, fragmented system of 850 different programs, 258 funding organizations, and 33 local government authorities was too complicated and confusing for many business owners to access and successfully utilize.
Bloomberg Associates’ Economic Development team worked with the GLA to develop the London Wayfinder – a coordinated, impartial and client-centric support system to help small businesses navigate the crowded landscape and find the resources they need.
In November 2021, the GLA launched a pilot program serving three boroughs – Lambeth, Southwark, and Wandsworth. Wayfinder provided small businesses a free assessment, navigation and referral services to resources including financial and business planning, sales and marketing support, employee retention strategies, and technology adoption, all in one place. This single “front door” service provided businesses, for the first time, a dedicated account manager who managed the business’s experience across the support system and ensured their needs were met.
Bloomberg Associates supported the GLA in designing, implementing, and evaluating the pilot program, including providing pro bono design support of the program’s logo and marketing materials.
The response to the Wayfinder pilot was overwhelmingly positive. During the six month pilot period, more than 450 small businesses requested support, 308 businesses were triaged, and 231 were successfully referred to the right support provider quickly. Overall, small businesses clients reported that they found it quicker and easier to access the help they sought, and stated that they would very likely recommend the program to friends. Feedback also illustrated that Wayfinders were seen as trusted partners who reached previously unsupported small businesses in their localities.
The success of the Wayfinder program led to significant public and private investments to scale-up the Wayfinder service. JP Morgan Chase & Co. invested in expanding to three additional high-need boroughs – Barking & Dagenham, Tower Hamlets, Newham. Due to this success, the GLA has now allocated £7.37m to expand the service London-wide.