Oh dear. It seems that one in four small business owners are so depressed by the state of the economy that they want to give it all up and revert back to being salaried employees again. Apparently they have lost their enthusiasm for being the boss and crave the relative stability of working for somebody else.
Yes, frustrations with increasing regulation are being blamed, but I tend to think it is the constant worry about where the cash is coming from to pay suppliers and wages and the efforts involved in trying to win new orders and deal with ever more demanding customers (i.e. the travails of everyday business for which the buck stops with the business owner) that is the real culprit. No wonder eyes are cast enviously towards the idea of a no risk monthly payment into their bank accounts that enables them to leave their work at the office when they go home every evening.
Make no bones about, it many of these business owners did extremely well during the boom years of the last decade. Equally they have had to dig deep into their pockets over the last few years to keep their businesses afloat during the downturn. Therefore their trepidation at the prospect of another year or more of austerity is understandable.
Of course risk free salaried work is also not what it used to be. There is a noticeable increase in the number of job adverts that quote an OTE (On Target Earnings i.e. minimal salary plus commission) figure rather than a fixed salary. Or what were once jobs with a wage, such as van drivers, are now “self-employment” opportunities. The business owners who remain are clearly looking to shift the performance risk back onto their employees, much as many big employers have been shifting their pension risks for a number of years.
It seems that now the good times have well and truly gone and the banks are no longer handing out money without due care and attention, the attractions of running and growing your own business for lots of hassle and uncertain reward are diminishing rapidly.
This ought to be of real concern to a Government that is relying on the private sector to take up the slack of job creation now the public sector jobs bonanza is over. Therefore it seems an odd time to focus on the excesses of capitalism, as represented by unjustified executive pay, rather than what can be done to really support those brave enough to take on the responsibility of building a business in a financially responsible way.
At its best capitalism provides motivated imaginative individuals with good sustainable business ideas the freedom to get on and create wealth and jobs. We need to be careful that the justifiable attacks on nasty capitalism that are being indulged in at present do not crowd out the benefits that the nice version provides.