Mulling things over with George Osborne
I have been mulling a little over the last week or so (I think it was the rain brought it on to be honest so this recent bright spell might just dispel it). One of my recurring mulls has centred on the intriguing question of what is that you become after you have been a start-up. And
One answer - a rather morbid one - is, I suppose, a stop-down. And as if to confirm this, one report that Google brought to my attention had the suggestion that some 90% of start-ups don't survive their first year. Typically the next statistic I came across turned this first one neatly on its head with the perhaps more comforting statistic that some 90% plus of new businesses actually survive the first year.
So there's ample room for debate and discussion there.
The 90% survival rate number derives from VAT statistics relating to the numbers actually registering and de-registering for the tax and the boffins who put them together readily acknowledge that they present a very partial picture of what is actually going on - lots of start up businesses, no doubt, take off and hopefully survive without breaking through the VAT turnover threshold so don't need to register at they set off - if at all
However given that there appears a general consensus from the sort of folk who know about this stuff ( that's the fwkats, for short)that it's a ' good thing' for people to be looking to start off on their own, you'd might think that there'd be a slightly clearer sense of the consequences of the said 'good thing'.
Unless you - like me, I have to confess - have dwelt a little too long on the dark side where well meaning folk earnestly apply themselves to dreaming up ways to support business and generate prosperity, you are probably not long detained by these matters. And its grossly heretical of me to say so but even given the best will in the world the deep connection between cause and effect in all that earnest activity is sometimes a bit difficult to make out.
Apropos of which you might recall the tale of the man found on the corner of Newhall Street and Colmore Row carefully tearing a copy of the Birmingham Post into three inch cubes, screwing these into a ball and tossing over his left and right shoulders alternatively. Concerned passer-by asks
"What're doing there, mate ?"
"Frightening the tigers away, pal"
"But there aren't any tigers here"
" I know - it works brilliantly doesn't it"
So might it be with business start up support initiatives. Cause and effect loosely and only imperfectly connected at best,you see
Returning to the fwkats (see above) for a moment, their earnest hope and desire is that after start-up the thriving business morphs into a gazelle - sleek and graceful and growing by leaps and bounds. Speaking for me and mine I have an anxiety about becoming a unicorn - even more beautiful and alluring than a gazelle - but unfortunately a complete figment of my imagination.
But enough of this fanciful menagerie.
My highest ambition at the moment is to make the uncertain step from start up to still stumbling-on in the bright expectation that I might graduate in due course to striding confidently upright.
To that end I have sought good counsel and looked to follow the advice and direction of those eager to present it to me; I have even listened and acted on the exhortations of Her Majesty's Foreign Secretary, got on a plane and taken myself to Bangalore, Beijing and Beyond - sorry, beyond - looking for business. Of course it's a long haul - and that's not just the flights.
But - well - there is just the one thing.
I need to begin though by outing myself as the sort of wus who can't get too worked up about the principle of paying tax. I don't need Danny Boyle's Olympic Extravaganza to sell me the National Health Service - when it and I were both little more than infants it actually saved my life. Education, social care, infrastructure - all need paying for.
But the simple and unavoidable fact is that, close to two years in, George Osbornehas taken more cash out of my little enterprise than I have myself. And that can't be right surely?
If I am to make it from start up to stride the sunlit uplands, keeping a bit more of the cash in the business at this precise stage would be very helpful ballast - and rest assured I'm only too happy to share some of it with you ,Mr Chancellor, when I start taking some myself.
Maybe you could mull that over ?