Having the right experience

It has long been a matter of speculation in football circles as to whether you needed to have played the game at the highest level to be a good manager. Of course , the same discussion could apply to many walks of life.

 I am strongly of the view that there is no substitute for experience. I found myself musing over these issues when I read some of the comments recently made by Baroness Vadera, the Government’s small business minister.

 Responsible for administering the new Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme the implementation of which has been much maligned, Baroness Vadera, a former Investment banker, has, as far as I can tell, had no practical experience at all of small business. I am sure she has taken many soundings from small businesses and read plenty of articles, but does she really understand what it means to run a small business.

More importantly, does she have any idea as to what really constitutes a small business. The Sunday Times 2009 list of top SME’s perhaps provides some clues as to why this may be the case. None of the top ten in the list have less than fifty employees and many have more than a hundred. The truth of the matter is that UK small businesses are dominated by entities that have less than ten employees and the problems they experience are so far under the Government’s radar that they are almost invisible.

Apart from never having worked in a true small business, Baroness Vadera and her advisors need to understand the true make up of the British Economy. That is not to say that businesses with more than ten employees are not important, but they simply have more resources at their disposal than the hundreds of thousands of micro businesses throughout the land that feel abandoned by successive governments.

As more and more people face redundancy and decide to start on their own in the face of a limited number of job opportunities, surely now is the time to incentivise and motivate these smaller businesses both by legislation and with practical support. One way to do this would be to appoint someone to focus on this part of the economy. Every business was once very small and by helping the micro business, the economy can only flourish.

The government should appoint someone now with true experience of this sector – someone who has worked there and built a larger business – someone who really understands the problems and culture of this community, certainly not an investment banker.