With the release of Lord Young’s report this morning, Growing Your Business, a report on growing micro businesses, accompanied by a press release from BIS and the Prime Minister’s office entitled ‘Micro business boost will transform the economy’, Tina Boden and Tony Robinson OBE, co-founders of Enterprise Rockers, an independent community interest company launched in January 2012 to make life for those running a micro business better, have watched with interest the comments that have followed throughout the day.
‘Lord Young stated that there has never been a better time to start a business and this seems to have caused some controversy without looking any further at the 54 page report’ states Boden. ‘His comment is of course correct’ she adds ‘if you can make a business work in a poor economic climate you can certainly ensure it grows in the good times’. Boden, who has been running her own micro businesses for over 24 years, since she was 21, is third generation self employed and has had experience of growing a micro business when the economy was bad in the early 1990’s. However Lord Young feels the benefit of starting out now is cheap labour not the reversal of trading conditions when the economy improves but Boden asks ‘How many micro businesses that have started up in the last 12 months are employing staff?’ adding ‘We find many sole trader micro businesses that are part of the Enterprise Rockers community are collaborating with other micro business owners not taking on employees.’
‘There is a strong focus placed on the success of Start Up Loans to get new businesses off the ground’ comments Boden ‘but these loans are being granted on the basis of a robust business plan not on the number of customers the micro business owner has; without a customer you have no business and no ability to repay a loan. Granting loans now that have no definite means of repayment is actually setting these new businesses up to fail’. Boden continues ‘Once granted a start up loan you are assigned a Mentor to help you with your business but how many of these Mentors have actually been there and done it when it comes to running a micro business? Running a micro business is very different to being a bank employee or a corporate manager – these people may have empathy but they do not have experience.’
‘The start up stage of a business is the sexy part, it is like being in a new relationship when everything is seen through rose coloured glasses. With less and less employment in large organisations is there any wonder 400,000 micro businesses have been started in the past 12 months; it is the only possibility of actually earning a living for many people’ states Boden. ‘Whatever BIS states in their advertising campaign not every one has a business in them and many that are encouraged to start up in business are just not cut out for it.’
‘Less focus needs to be given to the start up and more to the keep going stage in business. If Growth Vouchers can be used by established micro businesses owners to buy support from professional business advisers who have micro business knowledge and experience this scheme will be a fantastic opportunity for many to break down the barriers they are facing to move forward’ states Boden.
The biggest question that has been asked by many of the 25,000 plus micro business owners that are part of the Enterprise Rockers community today is how long will the recommendations from Lord Young’s report take to implement? And the answer from the co-founders has been ‘Who knows and in the meantime let’s Keep Going because micro business is keeping the UK economy rocking and has been for a long time.’