SMEs are getting squeezed by the big boys and no-one’s taking up their cause
I read an article in The Times the other weekend about how the uprising began in Tunisia with a simple story about a fruit and veg man being badly treated and how that subsequently spread to the events we all saw in Egypt, and now other countries too. It got me thinking (dangerous I know …)
The thing about being an SME, or at the lower end of the food chain, is that it’s a very hard and lonely place to be right now.
You’ve got the big companies holding on to your cash for longer. Getting paid after 60 or 90 days is not uncommon now and, really, for no other reason than to fund the way they are pricing their work. It looks good to their backers as it appears they’ve cash in hand at the bank. Everyone knows the game.
You’ve got your own banks telling you to get your cash in earlier otherwise they’ll, well, you know what … to you.
And in the end all that happens is any little profit you may be making is squeezed out of you when you get hit by, yes… a bad debt!
You’ve got the government fiddling with red tape and employment laws making it even harder for you to know what’s best for your business. Can someone tell me what the new retirement changes will mean to an SME for instance?
And in the end all that happens is any little profit you may be making is squeezed out of you when you get hit by, yes … a bad debt!
Sounds like I’m speaking from experience here and, well, I am. I’d love to give you a few real case studies here, but I’ll keep quiet. Maybe that’s another blog.
So what to do?
Building did try and get a campaign going last year before the election with their Charter 284 Manifesto. Remember that? It had the great statistic that every £1 spent in Construction is worth £2.84 to the economy. That makes our industry one of the most important to the economy.
So what happened to that? Well all we’ve had since then is cuts in spending and more cuts in spending. Why wasn’t our voice heard? I don’t trust the new way in which the economy statistics are being produced either at the moment. Who feels like our industry grew by 8% in the fourth quarter of 2010 compared with 2009?
Surely it’s time for a Construction Revolution of our own?
The RICS has tried again to kick things off in its own way with a call for a reduction in the VAT rate on the repair and maintenance of homes to 5%, which they calculate this could lead to £17bn of benefits to the economy by 2019. But is anyone at the government really listening to us? I think not.
It’s time for some action from us in the industry to make the government truly understand how important this industry is to UK plc.
So what to do? I wish I knew but if there were enough of us ordinary everyday people in the industry who could get together and start a campaign for some action to kick-start things then I’d be up for the revolution!.