Blue, red or green, government needs to support the self-employed

Blue, red or green, government needs to support the self-employed

I am always amazed at how much feedback – and the diversity of readers’ backgrounds – I get for my SmartCompany postings.

I wrote a blog several weeks ago around the growth in micro and small business in the UK. It’s happening because government and the big end of business are seeking to lower the number of paid full-time employees they have. It’s so marked in the UK that by 2016 there will be more self-employed people than people working in full-time jobs for the government, a situation not seen in the UK since the late 1940s.

So we have hundreds of thousands of people quietly leaving full-time work in major corporations and big and small government departments. These same people are taking their redundancy payments and seeking ways to keep themselves off the roll of the unemployed.

Why? Because the majority have assets, and pride, built up over many years. They have all enjoyed working, and wish to continue working. But there are fewer full-time jobs so they use their initiative to “create” a job. The mantra of the self-employed is “nobody would give me a job, so I created one”.

I got a call from a friend who had been in a meeting with a very senior member of the Opposition; doesn’t matter who. The senior member of the Opposition attended the meeting, apparently, with a copy of my blog on that topic. The conversation went something like this:

“The Labor movement has always been the champion of the organised workforce: Government employees and private sector employees. These employees are now being squeezed out of the large, organised employers and being forced to fend for themselves. The Labor movement needs to help these people transition from being employees to being self-employed.”

In the transition from employee to business owner, even if you have only one employee – yourself – neither the government of the day nor the Opposition has any natural claim to their support. During this time, people just want support from anybody that will increase their chance of being able to earn a living. Not become multi-millionaire business magnates. Just earn a living.

Happily, there are around 300,000 new companies set up each year in Australia. Sadly, there are around 300,000 companies shut down each year in Australia. It’s a zero sum game that quite probably destroys more wealth and self-confidence than it creates.

I have a strongly held belief that teams, companies and countries are all successful at moments in time because great leaders lead. The team’s, brand’s or party’s colours actually don’t matter. The leaders do.

I believe that Reagan and Clinton, Thatcher and Blair, Keating and Howard were equally amazing leaders… of their times. Each came from different ends of the political spectrum, and each did things that weren’t obviously aligned to their party’s historic positions, but absolutely aligned to the needs of the people in their communities at that time.

I don’t much care what the colour of the tie or scarf being warn in Canberra by the person who allows Australian small business to thrive. I’d just like them to do it sooner rather than later.

Kevin Moore is a retail expert and the chairman of Crossmark Asia Pacific Holdings.

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