The Federation of Small Businesses put together an insightful video last year: #IBackSmallBusiness. Hoping to catch the eyes of the manifesto-makers, it’s a plea to the new government to focus on what small business owners really want. Not what those assuming power think UK small biz needs.
There’s often a big difference between the two, these days. So many of our MPs are “career politicians”, never having stepped foot in an office, other than that of the Dean at their chosen university.
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The video kicks off with a reminder that entrepreneurs are starting out all across the country, offering a wide variety of niche services.
Too often, the focus of government spending and support has centred on the capital. Financiers, especially mortgage providers, are keen to lend, but only to those taking up contracts in sustainable, high-paid skills. Oil and Gas and IT are the two that spring to mind.
At the heart of the problem is a lack of understanding in what it takes to create a successful business from scratch. Many freelancers not only have to learn how to find a route to market, they have to understand how to run a business, too.
For limited company contractors, the process contains even more pitfalls. Contracts themselves are often short term (not what your High Street lender wants to see).
Accounting is a minefield, especially with the spectre of IR35 hanging around like a Dementor in the ether. And contractors face similar problems, in marketing and running their business, that the majority of self-employed do.
This is what we want (what we really, really want):
Those in the FSB video all seem to bare the scars of this transition. They have the vision, the service and the expertise, but it’s difficult to grow into a meaningful concern without the wherewithal.
The message of the video is that the opportunity for a new government to help solopreneurs and visionaries “realise [their] ambitions” is here and now, if only they could:
- score financial investment for their business;
- become scalable, and grow through offering employment opportunities to others;
- have access to markets that, without help, are off limits or behind walled gardens;
- profit from import/export markets, without miles of red tape;
- access the Internet through super-fast broadband, connecting seamlessly with peers, customers and suppliers around the globe;
- not be punished for a lack of access to the most appropriate, green or cost-effective energy;
- and – perhaps most important of all – provide an infrastructure for UK small business that’s sound, simple and is going to stand the test of time.
Yes, we must be able to adapt to changes in technology as business owners. But the last thing we need if we want to be successful is to have to change the structure of our business with each new budget, each new government. So, Mr Cameron: it’s over to you!
What are your challenges? What would you like to see the Government do to make your life as a freelancer or contractor simplified? Add your voice to the debate here, or via the Federation of Small Businesses. The country’s spoken. Now it’s your turn.