Since co-founding Enterprise Rockers, an independent community interest company working to make life better and fairer in micro business, a small amount of press and media, not enough of them if I am honest, have been keen to voice the opinion of those that employ 0 to 9 people through comments that either Tony Robinson OBE, my co-founder at Rockers, or I make on all things micro in the business world; Budget Day is most certainly one of those days when opinions are sought.
Anticipation and unwanted gifts
Following George Osbourne’s announcements last week, I was contacted by Vicki Owen, Enterprise Correspondent at the Financial Mail on Sunday, who was interested in my thoughts on how the budget will help micro business. It was the end of quite a frustrating client day, Tony and I both have day businesses whilst running Enterprise Rockers, when we spoke and I was on my way to swimming training, a must if I am to achieve my goal of partaking in a triathlon in September; be warned if only just starting out juggling is a prerequisite of running micro businesses. My thoughts were possibly not as business focused as they could be and my response was most definitely not what Vicki expected I am sure.
‘Don’t you think Budget Day is a bit like Christmas Day?’ I found myself saying ‘On Christmas Day you have all the anticipation and hype that brings great expectations of marvelous gifts and when you open your presents all you end up with is another dodgy Christmas jumper or a pair of socks’
‘On Budget Day we have all the build up that the Chancellor will deliver something that will actually make a difference to micro business owners and then at the end of it there is a token gesture that we should be grateful for’
Did the Budget bring micro business benefits?
Apparently the cut of £2000.00 in employers National Insurance contributions is all about helping the micro business owner. Great for those employing 1 to 9 people but in reality most people are not thinking about taking on staff. Whatever Conservative MP Rob Wilson stated in a Business Zone interview last week, in the main micro business owners just want to keep their business going they do not want to take on staff. Smart micro business owners have come to understand that if they need others to help them deliver a piece of work they would be much better collaborating with another micro business owner to make that happen. Taking on staff comes with allsorts of other complications not just the paying of tax and National Insurance, complications that micro business owners do not have time to deal with. Working with an Associate, or a Micro Biz Buddy as I like to call them, is a much easier option; you can do as much or as little together without the worry of redundancy, HR issues or the other headaches that employing staff can bring – many micro business owners no longer employ they collaborate, that is why one of my businesses is called Only Me Here.
Consulting to hear the wider micro business voice
In anticipation of press and media requests Tony and I questioned Enterprise Rockers members through our social media channels in the week leading up to Budget Day. We wanted to know what Rockers wanted to see George do for them; what would make their life in micro business better and fairer.
Alex Barrett on LinkedIn asked for a reduction in the burden of employers contribution to tax and National Insurance – Alex, George listened to you.
@Boneslovesbubbles on Twitter wanted a reduction on fuel costs – though a reduction was not part of George’s proposal he did scrap the 3p fuel increase that was due to take place in Autumn 2013 which many micro businesses will be grateful for.
Adrian Ashton on Facebook asked for something around recognising and valuing the family dimension to micro business. He said many micro business owners juggle running enterprises (earning money, paying tax, etc) with also raising young families or supporting unwell/infirm relatives. Adrian is right but do we think any Government would recognise this? Many Government schemes exclude the self employed or make it very difficult for those running their own businesses to claim benefits because the forms they are expected to complete are for those that are employed by others. This is a whole new issue beyond George Osbourne’s department and one for our friends at FSB HQ to take up as they lobby for change. We do not lobby at Enterprise Rockers we leave that to those that have the budget to do it properly and we work with them to get the micro business heard.
Sleeves up and keep going
In reality Budget Day will have meant little to the majority of 4.5 million micro business owners who are working hard in the United Kingdom to keep their businesses going. Like me many of the established businesses will have long given up hope of a miracle on Budget Day – in fact some micro business owners I have spoken recently were unaware that George would have his battered budget bag out at all on Wednesday 20th March.
Will George’s budget make them re assess the running of their business? – No
Are the savvy micro business owners more interested in how they can find and keep customers, the one thing that is most important for cash flow? – Yes
Will any Government genuinely deliver support that is given 100% by people that have actually been there and run a business? – No
Shall we just roll up our sleeves and get on with it? – Yes
Micro Business Matters and unfortunately Government just don’t get that those that employ between 0 and 9 have different needs to a business that employs 20 or more. Worry not however there are lots of people who want to make life better and fairer for micro business, they just don’t live on Downing Street but what they do know is Enterprise Rocks!