Today saw the annual Micro Biz Matters Day. A day that celebrates the teeny tiny businesses that keep the UK economy alive.
The usual definition of a small to medium enterprise (SME) is a company that employs under 250 people. There are around 5.4 million in the UK. That’s 99% of all businesses are SME’s. A Micro Business is much smaller. It employs less than 9 people with a turnover of less than £632,000 by Companies House definition and €2million (euros) by EU definition. However, there are around 4.8 million self-employed individuals currently in the UK. That’s owner operated micro businesses, not necessarily registered as limited companies with Companies House, but registered with HMRC to pay tax on a self-assessment basis. Meaning that micro businesses make up roughly 76% of all UK businesses.
So now we’ve established the facts, it’s easy enough to see who or what is actually keeping the economy propped up. And with more and more people turning to entrepreneurship each year and the growth of the gig economy, the Micro Biz is on the rise. Yet if you watch the news, often there is a very negative or dismissive attitude towards the little guys, the Micro Biz.
Why is that? Why is the gig economy being labelled as a bad thing, the government constantly looking to tax us more and the news only wants to talk about the big guys like Carillion who go bust owing billions and leaving great big damn holes in the economy and thousands of people out of work. And many of those left in financial hardship by this will be the Micro Biz’s that they contracted out to.
Ok, this may turn into a rant.
WHO KEEPS THE ECONOMY AFLOAT?
It’s easy to see why the Micro Businesses amongst us get annoyed by the sheer lack of recognition we receive. And just for the record, I class myself as a Micro Biz. I currently don’t employ anyone directly but provide work to 5-6 freelancers on an outsource basis. I’ll come back to this in a minute as there’s another bone of contention there.
Due to the nature of the work that I do it’s easy to see when my efforts produce results for clients and they see an increase in revenue or new opportunities open up for them. If someone reads one of my blog posts and takes direct action because of it, they have gained from something I have done. When you are someone’s employee you don’t always see the tangible results of your efforts. Apart from the guaranteed salary in your bank every month. It’s easy to become a cog in an ever-turning wheel.
Yet, I see huge amounts of disrespect for Micro Biz owners. And a huge lack of support for them too.
WHY IS THAT?
Why is it so difficult for many to show support for Micro Biz owners? Is it jealousy because that person you once worked with at your crappy job left to pursue their dreams and actually made a go of things? Or is it that you don’t understand what it is they do? Is it that you think they should get a ‘real job’? (this is a comment often thrown around at freelancers that work in more modern industries that many don’t understand. It’s really annoying, just for the record).
Why do you acknowledge the social media posts of celebrities that wouldn’t look twice at you on the street, but ignore those of your friends and family working their backsides off to build a business and follow their dreams? How many times have you recommended someone in business that perhaps just needs a foot in the door? The times someone you know would have really appreciated you helping them spread the word, but instead, you chose to ignore and do nothing. As humans, we are actually not very good at helping each other out unless there’s something in it for us.
And we are very good at ignoring the very thing I established at the start of this post, is keeping the economy ticking over. It’s quite bizarre really that we operate like that.
SHARE, HELP, BE KIND
Surely it is better to try to live your life to the very best you can, than living an unfulfilled life? When I first set about in business and made a lot of personal changes some people didn’t like it. They mocked, belittled, sniggered at my efforts. I had goals, passion and an unwavering desire to achieve things beyond my wildest dreams. I might as well have told some people I wanted to sacrifice their first born so I could sell it on eBay. And that is not an exaggeration. People don’t like change. But if you want things to change then you have to make changes. If doing what you’ve always done hasn’t worked out so far, then it’s time to do something different.
You may not understand the dreams of your friend who is setting up a business that has a really high chance of failing. But it’s not your job to squash their hopes and dreams. It’s your job to raise them up and back them every step of the way. To like, even share every social media post. Tell everyone you know how fabulous your friend is and their new business is. Look out for opportunities for them. Would it actually hurt you to help be their rising tide?
Every single Micro Biz is attached to someone’s dreams. Their goals may vary, but ultimately, they are doing what they do for a reason. Sometimes it’s just to pay the bills and feed their families. But somewhere they will be striving for more. And you just landed the role of number one cheerleader in their quest to achieve whatever it is they want to achieve.
Most Micro Biz owners have to look for help to spread the word from outside sources. Things like Facebook ads have become a business owners crystal maze! Facebook has recently changed the algorithms (again) so smaller businesses with pages on there are going to need your help more than ever now to help spread the word. That’s a massive hint in case you missed it. YouTube is cutting monetisation and Twitter is like a whole load of angry voices these days. Google has made SEO about as complicated as rocket science and nobody reads newspapers anymore so there’s no point shelling out for an ad in one. Do you see why it’s even more important than ever that you just help your Micro Biz mate out?
And don’t get me started on the so-called help the damn government provides. Most of their schemes stipulate you have to employ a certain number of people. So straight away that’s 4.8 million people who can’t benefit from all the local business boost schemes. Which, incidentally, aren’t overly receptive when you tell them you use other freelancers as it’s so expensive to directly employ people when you’re a Micro Biz and every penny counts.
Are you catching my drift here? For every pound paid to a Micro Biz, that pound will be directly spent on paying the bills, buying food, putting petrol in the car. There are no shareholders involved. Most Micro Businesses are operating on a cash in, cash out basis and making enough this month to keep the lights on next month. But they are growing in their numbers and someday you might even find you are one. So help them out now, not when you join the club.
Ok, so I’ve gone a bit ranty pants today. Ah well, you’ll get over it. Chances are you are just like me. A Micro Biz owner, that gets really quite fed up with the lack of support on offer and the ignorance of many. Yes, we do all stick together and my freelancing and small business groups have been vital in helping me get through the bad days, celebrate the wins on the good days and also spread the word. But it shouldn’t be down to them. They shouldn’t be my cheerleaders. It should be all the other people I know that have jobs and aren’t on the lookout for their next client because they are paid by someone else for turning up each day.
But lately, I’ve felt like I keep having the same conversation with other Micro Biz owners. About how friends and family don’t show an interest and don’t hit like on the posts. So, if you are one of my friends or family and you’re here for the first time, firstly thank you for dropping by. Secondly, why is this the first time you’ve been here? I’ve been doing this for years now. But now can you hit the god damn share button. Tell a few folk how absolutely fantastic I am. Let the world know that you have a direct line to the most fabulous social media, online marketing, blog writing, PR, manager of famous folks timelines, freelance writer, person in the whole wide world, should they ever need a bit of work doing, or just a consultation session or just to pick my brains (30 minutes and with a fee that is).
And then do the same for every single other self-employed person you know.
Because someday it may well be you that would like that help. Robots and automation are set to take over 48% of jobs within about the next 10 years. By 2020 (and if you hadn’t noticed that’s not too long away) around 40% of people of working age will be freelance. That could well be you. Think of it like paying it forward. And when you join the digital revolution I may even throw some work your way. But don’t come asking if you continue to be ignorant to Micro Businesses until you are one. And when you do turn freelance, make sure you read my post about going freelance without going broke.
And just for the record, this isn’t some desperate plea for more work so I don’t starve. More a general observation that Micro Biz does matter to us all and you should be taking more notice of what is happening and what is to come. But hey, I also won’t turn down more work.
The self-employed. The only people who will work 80 hours a week so that don’t have to work 40 hours for someone else.
Now go and chase your dreams! And check out my last post on setting goals so you can actually achieve them.