Stephen Alambritis, chief spokesman, Federation of Small Businesses

One defining characteristic and statistic that for me makes out the important case for small businesses, and why the insurance industry is crucial to that industry is because 40% of worldwide patents are registered from UK based companies. Within that 40% in the UK, 60% of all UK patents come from SMEs, so it's a crucial sector.

We have about 200,000 members in total and the last time we did this survey 19,000 members responded to 100 questions, which was very good.

A large proportion of our members come from retail, motor and the construction industry. Twenty four per cent are new businesses, under three years old, and 73% start their business from scratch.

Obviously there are a number of ways in which you can set up in business - buy an existing business, go into a franchise, or a social enterprise - but it is still the case that the vast majority of people start their business from scratch.

This is an important characteristic - 33% of our membership are home based, and increasingly more businesses are setting up from home.

Now that could be a reaction to high prices within the high street, complex leases, regulation or health and safety in terms of running a business premises. But, nevertheless, for the insurance industry, home based insurance is key.

A very worrying statisticis that 21% of our members raise finance and deal with customer invoices through credit cards.

It could be that going to the bank to seek a loan, to fill in an application form for an overdraft, is just too much for a number of entrepreneurs.

In terms of support, only 4% of our members use government support services. They tend to rely on their accountant, lawyer or trade association.

Another problems facing small businesses you need to be aware of, is late payment. If they're not paid on time they won't be able to pay their premiums on time, so it is important. We're pressing the government to improve the payment culture. And we acknowledge that small businesses are lagging behind in terms of contingency policies.

However you dress it up, at the end of the day price is key.

Small businesses normally go to a bank or building society for insurance, and brokers need to be aware of that. If brokers are independent of banks and building societies, there is that competition facing them.

And 20% of our members are looking to change brokers in the next year. That's a fifth out there, a fluid situation.

One key area that we do express concern about for small businesses, and it has implications for insurance, is the high incidence of crime facing small businesses. Last year 57% of our members were the victims of some kind of business crime, and that needs to be addressed.