Theo Paphitis is our favourite Dragon.
Of all the successful investors on the BBC television show Dragons’ Den, he is the one we would
most want as a business partner. Not only does he appear to have the best
business connections and the most business savvy, he also comes across as the
most rounded human being.
So it breaks our hearts to have to disagree with him when he
that – in Britain at least – start ups should be put on hold until after the
General Election which is due no later than May.
Of course, he is absolutely right about one thing: politics
matters to business. Much as the subject might depress us, and much as we might
try to be apolitical when discussing business, the actions of government impact
on every aspect of business life. That is why a blog which is dedicated to
business, and which makes a conscious effort to be politically neutral, cannot
avoid talking about politically contentious issues. Sorry about that, but to
pretend that we could ignore politics when discussing business would not be
living in the real world.
Yet Theo is wrong to suggest that the British General
Election will make much difference.
Whoever emerges as Prime Minister – and there is more
uncertainty about that than there has been for many years – he will have very
little room for manoeuvre.
The current government has been borrowing at an astonishing
rate – over £4,000 a second – in order the hide the effects of recession, but
it will not be allowed to borrow for much longer. The Prime Minister, whoever
he is, will soon be forced to face up to the government’s debts. That means
both spending cuts and tax rises.
We do not have to wait until May to know that. We should all
be aware of it now and we should all be making plans to take account of it,
existing businesses as well as new start ups.
Times are going to be tough – but it must be remembered that
some businesses can thrive in tough times. It all comes down to the basic idea
behind the business. If your business idea is weak, or marginal, nothing is
going to happen in Britain after the Election that will magically make it work.
However, if you have a good idea – one that can work even in hard times, or,
indeed, especially in hard times – do not waste five months. Get on with it.