Business minister Matthew Hancock has told us he’s been busy visiting businesses of all shapes and sizes ahead of 7 May on behalf of the Conservatives. But with so many promises being issued by various political parties, each business will have different perspectives and hopes on what the next government can provide.
Nick Barnett, chief executive of one-year-old tech business Appsme has revealed exactly what would secure his vote.
Who are you and what does your business do?
I’m Nick Barnett, CEO of Appsme. Appsme is an online app builder that enables small businesses to create mobile apps quickly, easily and cost-effectively. We make it easy for business owners to engage with customers, encourage loyalty and increase revenue
How has your business changed over the last five years?
We launched Appsme as a new service in 2014 and it has rapidly grown to be the focus of the whole business. Prior to Appsme, we were building apps in partnership with some of the large handset manufacturers including Samsung, Nokia and BlackBerry.
We delivered over 100,000 apps to their app stores, but as Nokia and BlackBerry in particular have changed focus or been bought, we’ve had to evolve what we do, hence creating Appsme where we have far more control over our future.
What are your growth plans for the next five years?
We want to emulate the success of the popular website builder Wix.com. They are now the world’s largest website builder with over 40 million customers. Given the world is ‘going mobile’ we want to do the same, but for apps.
The apps market, to us, feels very much like the websites market about 10-15 years ago – people didn’t know how to build a website and were put off by how difficult and expensive it was.
We want to continue to remove cost and complexity barriers associated with mobile apps, helping independents to compete on a more level playing field against the likes of Starbucks and Pizza Express.
Read more I’m voting as features:
What kind of government would you like to see elected (policy based)?
I’m a big believer in fundamental economics. If there’s more money coming in than going out, there’s a surplus that can be used to grow/build/invest etc. The opposite simply creates debt – and accumulating debt is just creating a problem for the future.
As a result, I’ll be voting for the party I think will make the best job of looking after the economy and driving growth.
Beyond general economic policy, there is a broad range of issues that many small businesses face today, many of which could be helped with specific policy measures. For example:
– Business rates. These remain high across the UK, and, as has been proposed by the current Government, are based on out-dated measures and ripe for a review. Current rates are tied to property size, not to any measure of revenue or profitability. An obvious idea could be to simply scrap business rates altogether and replace them with a business-earnings related tax instead. However, in practice this poses all sorts of complications, chiefly as business rates are collected by Local Authorities whereas corporation tax is collected by central government/HMRC.
– Online/VAT-free competition on the high street. Life on the high street isn’t getting any easier, especially for retailers. Competition from online players (Amazon et al), who can generate scale advantages and also – in many cases – avoid levying VAT on goods, making their pricing compelling vs high street players. Traditional players need to demonstrate differentiation, service, shopping experience (and price) to stay relevant
– Multi-nationals corporations tax management (Starbucks tax). There’s been lots of commentary around multi-nationals using international tax policy to ‘optimise’ their tax planning. Once again this places traditional, national/local players at a disadvantage, but is also difficult to legislate for with unilateral global tax bodies – which simply isn’t going to happen!
Maybe the answer here is not to look for opportunities to increase taxes for the offending multinationals to current UK levels, but perhaps to seek opportunities to bring down taxes for types of UK based retailers to level the playing field. All while ensuring there’s enough cash coming in to the Treasury in the first place, of course!
Read more on the general election:
- UK’s top entrepreneurs “plea” with next government to cut corporation tax
- Interview: Chuka Umunna and Toby Perkins make a Labour Party pitch for the votes of business leaders
- Most British consumers would consciously back living wage-verified businesses
Do you think government in general is doing enough to support businesses of your size?
In general, yes I think they are doing a good job. There’s always more that can be done, but in my opinion, things like Government grants aren’t the way to go. Help should be focused in two areas:
1. Incentives to channel private investment in to start-ups (enterprise tax relief etc)
2. Making it easier and less bureaucratic for small companies to work with Government bodies at all levels (local, regional, national)
Has the impending general election caused any uncertainty regarding how you run your company?
Nope! We continue as is.
In one sentence, please finish this line: “I’m voting as…”
I’m voting as the CEO of a London based technology business that wants to see a strong, confident, growing economy. Managing down the deficit and moving the country towards a budget surplus is the path to long term stability.
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