Whilst every working day brings its own tensions for all of us, the four million members of Enterprise Britain suffer more than most. This is partly because the sector is friendless. Nobody, bank managers, accountants, lawyers, MPs, the CBI, tax inspectors, traffic wardens and the like care. In fact they target you because the VAT inspector finds it much easier to hit the business owner than he does the larger corporation with its highly paid, great pension provisions, and expensively advised finance director. The looming presence of the Health and Safety Official can be awful. The one I had a run-in with was an ex-Glasgow policeman, all six foot five of him.
Each of you will deal with this legion of petty officials in your own way.
For several years I had a driver. I’ll call her Rachael because that was her name. She ran her own firm and took me around Britain and into London. Her driving was a little erratic and she seemed to attract the attention of drivers of black BMWs. The scenario of horns and flashing lights was not unknown. Throughout it all Rachael always remained calm.
One morning we had left the M1 and were heading for Oxford Circus. At the top of the hill leading down to Swiss Cottage a huge four by four, darkened windows, silver bumpers objected to Rachael’s lane change and world war three broke out.
Throughout the battle Rachael stayed calm and as we regained speed down the hill I asked Rachael what her secret was. Was she a secret student of Zen, did she meditate, was she a yoga practitioner? She turned to me (which was a worry because we were hurtling towards a bendy bus) and said:
“I simply say to myself “bet he has got a small willy’”
Brilliant! In that one phrase she had found the ultimate retort. A classic female put-down.
So as you struggle 24/7 to keep your businesses alive, un-loved and un-helped by the avaricious legion of officialdom around you, perhaps Rachael has found an antidote to relieve the daily stresses.
I watched Alastair Darling deliver perhaps one of the most hapless budgets ever heard and one which (surprise) ignored the owners, managers and workers within Britain’s enterprising businesses.
As he laboured and stuttered his way through I thought to myself:
‘I wonder if Rachael is thinking what I am thinking’.
And I felt better for it.