Hi I’m Tony, the Micro Business Champion.
Today, it’s the micro business champion on Governments. What a week this week has been! It’s seven
days after the EU referendum – and I should say -England – because I’m not sure that Scotland
and Northern Ireland are going to leave the EU. England certainly decided to leave the
EU. I’ve been doing radio interviews all week as to what this result means to micro businesses. I thought let’s not be boring about the result
but let’s say something about what’s important for all governments around the world NOT TO
DO AS WE DO IN ENGLAND. regarding micro businesses So, what can Governments do positively to
help micro business owners – the 95% of businesses in the world – to survive and thrive and to
start-up successfully and get through those difficult first three years and continue upwards
and onwards. it was noticeable in the EU referendum that
there was a Remain side and a Leave side but not once in the whole campaign did any politician
mention what leaving the EU would mean for micro business owners. That’s because they didn’t know. That’s because
they can only talk about big business and employers. They can only talk about jobs. Yet just before the EU referendum took place
in the UK the unemployment figures were announced. These were record figures for employment – not
unemployment – for employment – record figures since 2005. But why? Because 205,000 micro
business owners had started up a new business in the quarter. What we have to do is create the conditions
– any government has got to create the conditions – for those start-ups to survive. It’s not about promoting enterprise. For example,
sending a bus around the country so that everybody can see what a good idea starting a business
is. Everybody knows what a good idea it is to
start a business and get you out of corporate hell. Frankly there is no job security now.
70% aof the people who are doing it – their own business – want to control their own destiny.
They find ithe best way of earning their own living is by starting their own business. So, it’s not about promoting enterprise – everybody
knows that your own enterprises is the best way to be. But it is about Governments creating
the conditions under which people can start their own business, succeed and make ends
meet. 6% of these start ups – if we get more to succeed then there are more in the 6% – will
be employing people. That country gets all the benefits of new employees, new growth,
new innovation and new communities. Look at Thailand, look at New Zealand, look at Scotland,
look at Australia and look at Canada. Look at all the countries around the world that
have embraced creating the right conditions for micro business owners to succeed. So – okay – what are the three things that
any Government can do, anywhere in the world. These are all things that the UK government
refuses to do. Instead, in the UK, we have lots of initiatives – they cost more money
in TV advertising than the good they do to business owners. Firstly, get cash flowing. Government in every
country around the world can do this. Government is a big buyer of products and services. It
is often a licensor of manufacturers and providers of products and services. It regulates and
licenses and it buys. We, as a Government, can say we’re not going to license you to
sell alcohol, we won’t buy alcohol, we won’t let you manufacture alcohol or license people
to make tobacco or produce drugs or energy or telecom. We’re not going to buy energy,
we’re not going to buy cannabis – whatever – not going to buy anything as a Government
from you as an organisation if you DO NOT AGREE TO PAY ALL YOUR SUPPLIERS WITHIN 30
DAYS. Agree to pay all your suppliers big and small
within 30 days. The average payment time in the UK is a disgraceful 68 days. It’s not
about prompt payment but it is about unfair practices from, usually, very large companies.
They state such terms as 60 days or even 75 – minimum terms. Good cashflow is the thing that will keep
micro business owners going more than anything else. It is about not having to take out loans
or use credit cards. Being paid as quickly as possible. Every Government – number one
priority – can say we’re not going to be be supplied, as a Government, by any organisation
that will not pay all its supplies within 30 days. Secondly, reduce the costs. There are two
main costs so here’s priorities two and three. First, it’s INFRASTRUCTURE COSTS. Governments
talk a lot about providing advice and providing training and things like that – but look starting
your own business is learning by doing. Get help from a business owner and do something
that you know something about. But we all make mistakes and it’s all about learning
by doing. BUT IF YOUR COSTS ARE LOW then you’re more flexible. It’s best if you’re not tied
into too many things. For example, in Malta, the new government there, trying to be very
micro business friendly, got in by actually reducing energy costs by 25%. Reducing energy costs – reduces infrastructure
cost. Reduce transport costs. Reduce those broadband costs – remember 70% of people are
actually working from home so reduce the household costs. The third area – regarding costs – is about
the COSTS OF RED TAPE. I’ve been involved over 20 years, as the micro business champion,
trying to promote a better life for micro business owners around the world, particularly
in England where I live. I’ve heard every single year from politicians that we are going
to have a bonfire of regulations. But we never do. The reason is that the regulations are difficult
to unpick and they often bring in new regulations even if they take away some regulations. Now
our UK Government has the mad idea of introducing quarterly tax assessment which allows them
to do stealth taxes and all sorts of things in the future by people being self-assessed
four times a year. So how do you reduce the regulatory burden
on micro businesses? Well look at India. What India has done, by exemption and self certification
and policies such as not paying tax in those first three vulnerable years is great. Their
biz are not involved in auto enrolment and all those terrible things that put you off
taking off employees. They’re exempting new businesses from red
tape because it’s new businesses that all the growth comes from – all the innovation
and employment comes from. Exempt these new businesses from the regulations and through
self certification so that you get them away from the high costs of compliance of regulations.
Allow them to get going. That’s my advice as the Micro Business Champion
– three things Governments can do to help micro businesses. Any government can do these
things to help micro businesses.