GOING OUT OF BUSINESS: PLIGHT OF THE SMALL BUSINESS – You pass a shop window with a sign ‘Closing Down – Everything Must Go’, you glance for a split second and walk by. Another business going under, that’s the fifth you’ve seen today on your shopping trip and yet do you give it a second thought?
The harsh reality of life is that consumers don’t really care; they merely assume that some rich dude made a couple of bad decisions and sank the business. Not too worry because next week a new shop would have opened and you’ll be able to shop there instead.
The trouble here is that another shop does open, but it’s not a general retailer it’s another charity shop for they are the only ones able to pay the extortion rent and rates.
The high street is dying and with it the dreams and aspirations of thousands of independent retails; but you don’t care after all it’s just another shop going under.
The truth is that the retailer who is going bust will probably end up on welfare along with his staff and it’s you who will ultimately foot the bill.
Oh yes Government will come out with its usual rhetoric that it’s forcing the banking industry to do more to help small businesses.
Recently the Government even bought in a ‘Retail Guru’ to look at the dire situation of our high streets. The result was that the Retail Guru spent millions of taxpayer’s money only to declare that the high street was a dying entity in the way shoppers shopped; that is they prefer the out-of-town retail parks with their vast parking facilities and cheaper prices. The only downside to this is that almost all independent retailers can’t afford to set up shop in these retail parks.
It’s not just the small independents either; look at the demise of Comet, Jessops and other large retail brands; if they are struggling to survive how does the independent retailer fair?
The answer to that question merely requires a look around our high streets. There are far more ‘To Let’ or ‘For Sale’ signs visible than flourishing businesses.
One of the key things I’ve learned over the years is that most working folk often perceive business owners as being wealthy. When I tell someone I own a dot com business they immediately change their attitude towards me as they think that my private jet is sitting on the runway waiting for me to board.
It is of course pure fantasy as I operate meebal.com out of my bedroom. That’s right I have a small desk in my bedroom and here I am pounding the keyboard creating this article. As for the private jet, we’ll let’s just say I don’t even have a car. I own a small 150cc motorbike but that rarely gets used as I spend 14 plus hours every day (that’s every day) writing content.
Our perception of business people is often marred in the belief that when one of their businesses goes bust they’ll either simply set up another or retire to the Caribbean where in fact this couldn’t be more removed from the truth.
I’ve had, on more than one occasion, people remark that I couldn’t possibly understand the hardships of the working person due to being a business owner. I am afraid it’s not all cocktail parties and tiaras; it’s often long hours, little acknowledgement and most often unpaid.
A classic case of this scenario was that of Simon Dunn who operated a chocolate shop in Wilmslow, Cheshire. After years of struggling to pay the bills, including staff, his turnover of £4,000 a week simply was not enough to cover the rent, rates, taxes and other general overheads and despite this amount he couldn’t take a salary – he basically worked for nothing in order to hand over cash to the taxman and provide his staff with a living.
So what’s the answer to this dilemma? What small businesses need is more assistance from the Government. A huge reduction in council taxes along with income taxes would help.
Would this be possible? One of the easiest targets for clawing in tax revenue is the small business because they often cannot afford the expensive accountants and lawyers that would help them to avoid paying tax.
Look recently at how the Government has struggled to get the likes of Google, Amazon and Starbucks to pay taxes; quite frankly there’s no one in Government competent enough to tackle the problem head on and so the small business becomes the soft option; and the most profitable one.
Britain used to be a nation of shop keepers, innovators and industrialists and get today the high streets are dying, innovation is almost non-existent and as for manufacturing well it’s perfectly clear why most labels have ‘Made in China’ stamped on the products we buy every day.
Where will Britain be in another 10 years? Probably broke or simply swallowed up by the EU for without small businesses Britain cannot survive.
The next time a political candidate knocks on your door to canvas your vote ask them what they are doing to help the life-blood of this country; that being the small business.
Do you think Government should do more to help small businesses? Please leave your comments below.