Government bullies business and big business bullies small business. Such is the order of things.
However, although business can exist without government, and often has done, government cannot exist without business to finance it – and small business is in many ways more indispensible to the country than big business.
We have always stressed the importance of small business but the statistics that prove it still come as a bit of a shock.
According to figures from the British government – a source not exactly biased in favour of small business – there are 4,800,000 small businesses in the UK, as opposed to 7,000 big businesses.
Those small businesses contribute more than half of the nation’s turnover – and more than our fair share of the taxes that fund its public services: governments give tax breaks to individual citizens because they can vote, and to big businesses because they can always move offshore, but we are the easy targets.
At a time when politicians profess particular concern about jobs, you would think that they would love small business for employing 58% of the private sector workforce in the UK – and, of most immediate importance, providing the vast majority of new posts. Small business is the most efficient engine of recovery from a recession caused by the follies of governments and big businesses.
Small business is also the country’s best hope for the longer-term future – the provider of 69% of apprenticeships and the source of 64% of commercial innovations.
We should be valued for this. We should be loved. Politicians should be falling over each other to ask us how they can make our work easier, so that they can help us rebuild our country.
Yet we are ignored. The loudest voices when it comes to actual policy are those of the bureaucrats and the politicians themselves, then those of big business and other special interest groups. The polite complaints and requests of the small business lobby, such as it is, carry no weight.
The only protest we can make is with our feet: we retire or we emigrate. Even then, the politicians do not notice our passing. They only complain that the economy is not growing as fast as they want – but they profess to be mystified why this is the case. We could tell them – indeed, we have told them – but they do not want to listen.