Today, with great fanfare, a new "Start Up Britain" campaign is launched:
Prime Minister David Cameron is launching a new private-sector business initiative today called Start Up Britain. It is aimed at encouraging people to set up their own businesses and will be a major part of the governments attempt to encourage economic growth through private enterprise. New businesses will be able to apply for help worth around £1,500 in areas such as internet advertising and IT training.
And the Government has roped in some big businesses - mostly those with a real interest in small business that extends to wanting to sell something to these new businesses!
O2, Virgin, Blackberry, Google, Experian, Barclays and AXA - all signed up and ready! Ready to sell mobile phone services, credit checking, insurance, banking and technology hardware. Not much in the way of philanthropy here - just some big businesses scamming government for a few nice sales opportunities.
And let me tell what the problem is for small businesses - it isn't the cost of IT training or the expense of internet advertising, it's the endless barriers to getting going. Here are a few examples:
I could go on - talk about VAT, about business rates (watch out for double taxation when you work from home), reporting rules, accountancy fees and a host of regulations specific to different types of business. And this is before we get to the burden of actually employing people - you know the "creating jobs" bit! That opens up a whole load more costs and rules - national insurance, PAYE, assorted employee rights (maternity, paternity, sick pay, holidays and so forth).
As my old boss, Judith Donovan put it in commenting prior to the recent budget:
“I passionately believe SMEs are the engines of growth; this Government so far is paying lip service to that concept while cuddling up to big business; we don’t need schemes and incentives and special favours.
“Yorkshire folk will do it for themselves if given a level playing field; lift the ridiculous and onerous employment law burdens for businesses employing under 10 people and the Yorkshire economy will fly; I should know. I built an SME to over £10m turnover and I sold because of these appalling laws and I would never start another business while they persist.”
Setting up a business is a pain - sometimes it's the only option but no-one enjoys it, there are huge bureaucratic barriers and costs before you can do anything, let alone start making some money!
There are plenty of people who would love to start a business. They don't bother because, right now, the cards are stacked up against the start up - regulation, tax, more regulation, more tax, controls, dictats, instructions, all things of no point, value or purpose to the businessman or woman.
That's what has to change - not lending us a tenner and getting Google to provide some second rate IT training.