In 2016, there were 5.5 million businesses in the UK. Over 99% of businesses are Small or Medium Sized businesses – employing 0-249 people. 5.3 million (96%) businesses were micro-businesses – employing 0-9 people. Micro-businesses accounted for 32% of employment and 19% of turnover. They are the backbone of our economy.
Unfortunately, attention is focused on large companies; home grown or foreign owned corporations. Their lobbying capability and significant resources ensures they get the attention they need: whether it’s competitive interest rates, concessions on business rates or deals on utilities.
Small and medium sized businesses comprise a significant proportion of large company supply chains: whether the OEM is JLR or Amazon. Even the Chinese retail giant Alibaba depends on the goods of much smaller businesses the way that much of Amazon’s portfolio comes from its Marketplace.
Often OEMs help their supply chains with, for example, support on quality control. Nevertheless, the emphasis is on the value the OEM can drive from its supply chain and how this can be passed on to the end user. Within this model it would take an audacious entrepreneur to turn this model on its head and provide an ecommerce capability that favours small businesses and the communities they serve.
I am on the hunt for small businesses, ones that care about the communities and customers they serve. Whilst governments shilly shally about protecting the intellectual property that small and medium businesses in the UK create (it is being plundered by foreign owned corporations whilst Ministers almost usher them in rather than doing what they said in their manifesto), I can supply them with an ecommerce infrastructure that will rival the biggest and best. This will give them a chance to fight back and avoid becoming a small fish in a big pond.
If you want to know more, message me.
In the meanwhile, I ask the great and the good to do a few things to help our small business communities. Napoleon got it wrong when he said that we were a nation of shopkeepers: we are a nation of craft entrepreneurs and the sooner that is recognised, in education, in spend on business support and vital business infrastructure, the better we can ride through issues such as Brexit, skills and productivity issues and the dumping of steel.
- I ask organisations like Chambers of Commerce, the Federation of Small Businesses and even the Institute of Directors to convince the Confederation of British Industry to work together to persuade the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy that a level playing field for all businesses is better for Britain whether we are inside the EU or not. Having the United States Secretary of Commerce tell us to take an adversarial approach to the EU will only help the finance sector and large (American owned) corporations and their shareholders.
- I ask banks and the finance sector to dig out books on Joseph Schumpeter, the economist that coined the phrase ‘gales of creative destruction.’ Schumpeter believed that credit enabled small entrepreneurs to challenge the status quo and disrupt the market place in turn driving up innovation, quality and customer care. The only people who benefit from the status quo are the staid, unproductive corporations and their investors: businesses that only survive because of their lobbying power, their ability to avoid corporation tax and the handouts they receive from Ministers eager for the ‘shovel selfie.’
- Finally, I ask the public to choose where they buy more carefully. Companies that have ‘loyalty’ schemes and marketing practices that abuse human psychology are not your friends, no matter how much their Christmas video makes you cry. Buy local, buy independent. You can still do it on-line (I will make sure of that) but just think of who is really benefitting from the profit on your purchases. And perhaps when you realise that products like biscuits are cheaper than apples, you can ask your MP why healthy food costs so much more.