Statements that Harm Small Business
What statements, comments and asides do we hear from many policy makers, business haters, extremes of the left and right, and from vested interests? Comments that are used to justify: extra red tape; poor behaviour from regulators, unions and big businesses; or complicated compliance demands? We have listed some of those below:
From the ideological right of society:
"Business to business - it's all the same."
This statement forgets the people behind the business. Big and small business are not the same. Is the owner of an independent coffee shop really on equal footing with a big mining company like Rio Tinto? Are they on equal footing with the shopping centre landlords they have to deal with? There needs to be regulation to keep things fair. Changes to unfair contract terms in B2SB contracts was a welcome recognition of that difference and needs to be strengthened.
"Let the market decide."
This is a classic statement from the laissez-faire economists and the more shallow minded. What they should be saying is "we need to make sure that the market can decide."
We know from bitter experience that when there's no regulation or poor regulation then bad things happen; for example, corruption abounds. Also, some of those with money and muscle will take control of urban planning and force small businesses into big shopping centres where they control products. We aren't against shopping centres, but we are against local retail monopolies that remove choice for consumers and bully and destroy small business peple and their families. We must make sure the market can decide.
"We don't need to do anything about climate change."
The great part of Australia's population is concerned about the environment. The experts agree that climate change will mean more days of extreme heat and more extreme weather events like fires, floods and storms. This will have a disproportionate effect on small businesses. On hot days, staff have to be sent home because of health and safety issues, the number of customers drops dramatically as people flock to air-conditioned shopping centres - and not to mention the absolute havoc caused by blackouts. It's also much harder for small business people than big businesses to recover financially from natural disasters like bush fires and floods. We need to take care of our environment.
"It can't be that hard for small businesses - if things go wrong, they can just take a big business to court."
If only! In reality, there are huge costs (both time and money wise) associated with legal action that the vast majority of small business families simply can't afford. It doesn't matter who is in the right and who is in the wrong - by the time the case is finished, the small business family will have lost all its money and have to close. This is why access to justice is so important.
From the ideological left of society:
"Australian wages are going backwards."
This is not true. Wages in developed economies have been flat for some time. Australian wages, for small businesses, have increased by more than inflation over the last two years.
Also, we reject the idea that there is a crisis in Australia in regard to jobs and wages. We were ranked third in the world in the UN human development index. We have the highest minimum wage in the OECD. Our unemployment rate is comparable to the OECD average, and our long-term unemployment rate is significantly lower. You can explore for yourself how Australia compares favourably to other countries here.
"The casualisation of the workforce is going up."
This isn't true either. This is a completely fabricated statement designed to create angst and fear in the workforce. The percentage of the workforce that is casual has been the same for the last 20 years. The real period of casualisation occurred in the early 90s. You can read more about it here.
"Employees should be able to choose their own work hours"
This sounds fair in theory, but it simply won't work in practice. Businesses need to build their behaviour around the needs of customers if they want to stay in business, and that generally means being open from 9-5. In the case of a small retail business, if someone was to request to work from 10-4, what is the owner supposed to do between 9 and 10? Between 4 and 5? Big businesses may have the staff to manage this, but small businesses don't.
"Employers and small business are the petit bourgeoisie and need to be controlled."
Of course, most people don't think this, but there are still some people on the far left who live in Karl Marx's Das Capital. Whenever they hear the word "business" their ears flatten and their tails bush up, ready to attack. The fact is though, small business people are normal, kind-hearted human beings like everyone else; 99% of them endeavour to do what is fair and they genuinely care about the wellbeing of their employees. This statement only serves to promote hatred and distrust.
And finally, here are some general statements we hear from everyone. The below statements are also made by people who have never run a business or want to make money from small business people. These statements show at best a complete lack of understanding of the world of small business. At worst it shows a lack of care for business people and their families and employees and through that a very shallow understanding of both economics and society.
"When you go into business, that’s what you sign up to."
"When you go into business you know what you are getting into."
"If you can’t do it, you shouldn’t be in business."
"It’ll only take five minutes..."
"How hard is it?"
"It’s their own fault if they fail."
"Business is hard; suck it up."
"Small business people need to become better managers."
"Small business people need to do as they are told."
"It’s easy! All you have to do is _____"
"If a small business falls over, it's OK as there will be another one to take its place."
(This statement was made by a person who claimed to represent small business).
"Small business people who are unhealthy or obese shouldn’t be in business."
This statement came from a person who declared themselves
"Small business need to become better at (Insert issue from list below*).
Normally the people who make these statements have no idea but want to either make money from small business people or to introduce new legislative demands.
*Hiring staff, firing staff, accessing finance, dealing with theft, managing staff, contacting customers, managing their own health, managing recalcitrant employees, managing a website, using technology, paying superannuation, cashflow management, paying tax, accessing the right accountant - the list is endless.