A Lucky Escape
Last night, at the end of the RSA event to launch their latest report, on the self employment boom, one of the speakers startled the non sleeping, business owners in the room. This speaker implied that many are only self employed until they can find a 'proper job'.
I could see these words had an inspirational effect on the co-founder of Enterprise Rockers, and a member of the RSA/Etsy steering group, Tina Boden. Tina proceeded wide eyed, glowing in a reddish haze, with steam billowing from ears and nostrils, to storm the stage to extract an apology. Fortunately, the speaker admitted that she hadn't meant what we had heard and no harm was done.
What the six speakers at the RSA didn't know is that whilst they were presenting on why the ever increasing army of self employed were happy (84% contented) but poor (earn 40% less than employees & earnings declined 20% since 2007) the co-founders of Enterprise Rockers were feeling a tad downtrodden and skint. This is not unusual for happy micro enterprise owners.
Most of us are content to control our own destiny in our own business but this is despite the significant barriers to our success put up by Government and large corporations and institutions. This is what happened before 7.15 p.m. when a speaker at the RSA was lucky to survive an unexpected tornado.
A Day In The Life ...
7.00 a.m. Tina e-mailed me she was still coming to pick me up in the car from Enterprise Rockers HQ despite a family illness. We were going to drive to York from Scarborough as we needed a car to get us back to our homes in Scarborough as the last train from York will have gone.
10.00 a.m Tina picks me up from the office but horrendous traffic on the A64 (indie businesses in Scarborough have campaigned for 40 years for a dual carriageway from York) means we miss our pre paid/booked train to London scheduled for 12.01. Micro Business owners travel on the trains that have the lowest advance single rate that day.
I go to the ticket office and the attendant tells me that my pre-paid tickets are now 'worthless'. I thought i would just have to pay for an extra amount on top of what I've paid but I'm informed I have to pay for two full fares - what I've already paid is lost. Two more single, standard class tickets on East Coast were prohibitively expensive so we decided to go on the Grand Central train at 2.06 pm (cancelling early afternoon meetings) at £106.
2.06 pm on the Grand Central Train. There is no free wifi (only 15 mins free wifi on East Coast trains). This is annoying as we're responding to many indie shopkeepers angry that Tesco having stolen the 'shop local' idea. Tesco are a target for two of Enterprise Rockers' campaigns a) that any company government contracts with should pay all its suppliers within 30 days and staff a living wage and b) that everyone should buy at least 25% of their stuff from indie biz owners. We have to deal with everything, expensively, by mobile phone.
I could go on with tales of domestic and business owners' crises and injustice, during the day. However, in summary, Tina and I will have spent over £500 on a day when we can't earn any money in our separate businesses arriving back at our individual homes at 1a.m. All in a vain attempt to influence policy geeks to give the self employed and micro enterprise owners a fair deal.
What does it all mean?
We believe that the RSA report on self employment and the recent Resolution Foundation report explain and interpret why one in six of the workforce are self employed and running their own micro enterprises. We're just very nervous that the reports will give Governments and the large corporates permission to keep us happy and poor.
Business as usual to them means discriminating against us, putting us down as 'unskilled', 'not serious', not 'aspirational', 'not productive', 'not innovative' and 'not growth oriented'. It means continuing to rip us off:- allowing 68 days average payment terms, high cost of compliance with legislation, poor and expensive telecom/broadband, outrageous energy costs, prohibitive council rates & 'extras', excessive taxation, inappropriate support schemes, saddling us with debt and yes... a transport system that kills business.
More on the Enterprise Rockers CIC
I'm Tony Robinson OBE, the Micro Business Champion, a business owner, professional speaker and the author of the popular satire 'Freedom from Bosses Forever' (Kindle, paperback and audio book). I'm the founder of the SFEDI Group and co-founder, with Tina Boden, of the Enterprise Rockers CIC which organises and presents the annual, global #MicroBizMattersDay.
2016 was the 30th Anniversary Year of our primary business - The Business Advisory Bureau Limited/Entrepreneurs UK and the 20th Anniversary Year of my founding the UK Government recognised Sector Skills Body for Enterprise and Business Support, the SFEDI Group (includes the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs), which I still co-own.
I was honoured to receive an OBE in 2001, and two Lifetime Achievement Awards for Enterprise Support - in 2012 from the IAB and 2013 from SYB magazine and have appeared in the Fresh Business Thinking and Smith and Williamson Power 100 of influencers on UK entrepreneurship in 2014 and 2016.