Monday, May 18, 2009

Small business ignored in the Budget

I got an e-mail last week from Brisbane Business News after the Budget was announced commenting on the article below. I couldn't agree more with Steven's thoughts, the tax breaks and boosts really don't do much for SME's. I mentioned it to friend's before the last Federal Election that if I never again heard the phrase "working families" it would be too soon. The Labor government certainly hasn't done anything to support small and medium businesses.


It should come as good news to Brisbane’s struggling SME sector. But shadow small business minister Steven Ciobo has taken a swing at what he calls a ‘failed budget’ and that access to capital and cash flow are the real barriers facing SME.

“The fact is that the small business Tax Break is a mirage,” he says.

“Only 30 per cent of small business owners expect to make capital investments in their business over the next six months, as stated in the MYOB March 2009 Australian Small Business Survey.

“Labor does not understand (that) small businesses must have a dollar to be able to invest a dollar. That’s why it was important for Labor to assist small business cash flow. Where are small businesses going to get the money to go and buy new equipment and machinery if they are under cash flow stress? This is the problem the Coalition has been trying to highlight to the Rudd Labor Government for months.”

Speaking of which, a few months ago I received an e-mail from a friend talking about Kevin Rudd and the financial crisis. It relates to small business and I thought it was spot on and worth sharing.

A Boss Who Tells It Like It Is

Date: Sat, 03 Jan 2009

To All My Valued Employees,

There have been some rumblings around the office about the future of this company, and more specifically, your job. As you know, the economy has changed for the worse and presents many challenges. However, the good news is this: The economy doesn't pose a threat to your job. What does threaten your job; however, is the changing political landscape in this country.

However, let me tell you some little tidbits of fact which might help you decide what is in your best interests.

First, while it is easy to spew rhetoric that casts employers against employees, you have to understand that for every business owner there is a back story. This back story is often neglected and overshadowed by what you see and hear. Sure, you see me park my Subaru Outback outside. You've seen my big home at last year's Christmas party. I'm sure all these flashy icons of luxury conjure up some idealised thoughts about my life.

However, what you don't see is the back story.

I started this company 28 years ago. At that time, I lived in a 2 bedroom flat for 3 years. My entire living area was converted into an office so I could put forth 100% effort into building a company, which by the way, would eventually employ you.

My diet consisted of baked beans, stew and soup because every dollar I spent went back into this company. I drove a rusty Toyota Corolla with a wonky transmission. I didn't have time to go out with women. Often times, I stayed home on weekends, while my friends went out drinking and partying. In fact, I was married to my business -- hard work, discipline, and sacrifice.

Meanwhile, my friends got jobs. They worked 40 hours a week and made a modest $50,000 a year and spent every dime they earned. They drove flashy cars and lived in expensive homes and wore fancy designer clothes. Instead of hitting the David Jones for the latest hot fashion item, I was trolling through the discount store extracting any clothing item that didn't look like it was birthed in the 70's. My friends refinanced their mortgages and lived a life of luxury. I, however, did not. I put my time, my money, and my life into a business with a vision that eventually, some day, I too, will be able to afford these luxuries my friends supposedly had.

So, while you physically arrive at the office at 9am, mentally check in at about noon, and then leave at 5pm, I don't. There is no "off" button for me. When you leave the office, you are done and you have a weekend all to yourself. I unfortunately do not have the freedom. I eat, and breathe this company every minute of the day. There is no rest. There is no weekend. There is no happy hour. Every day this business is attached to my hip like a 1 year old special-needs child. You, of course, only see the fruits of that garden -- the nice house, the Subaru, the vacations... you never realise the back story and the sacrifices I've made.

Now, the economy is falling apart and I, the guy that made all the right decisions and saved his money, have to bail-out all the people who didn't. The people that overspent their pay suddenly feel entitled to the same luxuries that I earned and sacrificed a decade of my life for.

Yes, business ownership has its benefits but the price I've paid is steep and not without wounds.

Unfortunately, the cost of running this business, and employing you, is starting to eclipse the threshold of marginal benefit and let me tell you why:

I am being taxed to death and the government thinks I don't pay enough. I have state taxes. Federal taxes. Property taxes. Sales and use taxes. Payroll taxes. Workers compensation. Unemployment taxes. Taxes on taxes. I have to hire an accountant to manage all these taxes and then guess what? I have to pay taxes for employing him. Government mandates and regulations and all the accounting that goes with it, now occupy most of my time. On Oct 15th, I wrote a cheque to the Australian tax Office for $288,000 for quarterly taxes. You know what my "stimulus" cheque was? Zero. Zip. Zilch.

The question I have is this: Who is stimulating the economy? Me, the guy who has provided 14 people good paying jobs and serves over 2,200,000 people per year with a flourishing business? Or, the single mother sitting at home pregnant with her fourth child waiting for her next welfare cheque? Obviously, government feels the latter is the economic stimulus of this country.

The fact is, if I deducted (Read: Stole) 50% of your pay you'd quit and you wouldn't work here. I mean, why should you? That's nuts. Who wants to get rewarded only 50% of their hard work? Well, I agree which is why your job is in jeopardy.

Here is what many of you don't understand ... to stimulate the economy you need to stimulate what runs the economy. Had the government suddenly mandated to me that I didn't need to pay taxes, guess what? Instead of depositing that $288,000 into the Canberra black-hole, I would have spent it, hired more employees, and generated substantial economic growth. My employees would have enjoyed the wealth of that tax cut in the form of promotions and better salaries. But you can forget it now.

When you have a comatose man on the verge of death, you don't defibrillate and shock his thumb thinking that will bring him back to life, do you? Or, do you defibrillate his heart? Business is at the heart of Australia and always has been. To restart it, you must stimulate it, not kill it. But the power brokers in Canberra believe the poor of Australia are the essential drivers of the Australian economic engine. Nothing could be further from the truth and this is the type of change you can keep.

So where am I going with all this?

It's quite simple.

If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, my reaction will be swift and simple. I fire you. I fire your co-workers. You can then plead with the government to pay for your mortgage, your 4WD and your child's future. Frankly, it isn't my problem any more.

Then, I will close this company down, move to another country, and retire. You see, I'm done. I'm done with a country that penalises the productive and gives to the unproductive. My motivation to work and to provide jobs will be destroyed, and with it, will be my citizenship.

So, if you lose your job, it won't be at the hands of the economy; it will be at the hands of a politicians that swept through this country changed its financial landscape forever. If that happens, you can find me sitting on a beach, retired, and with no employees to worry about....


Your boss

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