Opinion

Dear Dave: Stop interfering!

3 min read

14 February 2012

Business owner Jan Cavelle writes a disgruntled letter to the meddlesome Prime Minister on credit ratings, quotas and share schemes.

Dear Dave, 

I feel I can write to you on such familiar terms as from the outset of your term in office you have been keen to outline that we business owners are in it together with the government. 

Indeed, you have often gone further and laid the responsibility for the country and its recovery rather firmly on our shoulders. 

This might have been interpreted as you shirking your responsibilities but, in fairness, I thought you were probably right. If we, as business owners, don’t all do our bit to kickstart Britain, none of us are going to get very far. 

That said, Dave, we do occasionally need just a bit of help. And you’ve got me very worried. 

It comes as no surprise that our AAA credit rating has now been threatened, not least because of our exposure to potential shocks from the Eurozone crisis.  But there was a moment there when I thought you were going to stand up for Britain, and loosen those strings; when you actually looked as if you were going to allow us to have a voice of our own away from Brussels. Then, two seconds later, you were listening to that best pal of yours Nick Clegg and lo and behold, we were back under Brussels’ thumb. 

Running a business is an even scarier prospect when powers over which we have no control (but to whom we pay rather substantial amounts of taxation) can swipe away our fortunes at any minute. 

Then we have all this supposedly ultra-PC talk about women’s equality and enforced quotas. Not surprisingly, this seems to be going down rather badly – even with us women. We don’t appreciate tokenism. Neither do we relish the prospect of weaker boardrooms in our businesses, brought on by an inability to chose candidates on merit. 

We aren’t actually that keen on interference which brings me to my next point – your mate Nick’s bright idea of the John Lewis economy, where all our employees can buy shares off us. 

Shares schemes can – and do – work really well for some businesses.  But they wouldn’t work well at all levels of the average manufacturing floor. Obligatory share schemes would dump another huge pile of paperwork on our desks. 

There is a pattern here: one of more interference and less power and freedom to run our businesses. 

If you’re going to rely on us to get Britain kickstarted, you need to back off. Give us the support and protection we need but leave us entrepreneurs to run our businesses in the ways we see fit. 

If you continue on this path of meddling, there will be considerably less entrepreneurs helping you save our country. 

Your supposed partner,

One extremely disgruntled and put-upon SME owner

Jan Cavelle is founder of The Jan Cavelle Furniture Company.