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Vacation, Stay-cation or No-cation?

As schools in the Northern Hemisphere close for the summer, many families turn their attention to a well-deserved vacation.  Spare a thought though for Small & Medium Business owners who will be hard at work while many of us enjoy time with our families – nearly half of business owners recently surveyed by Sage say they did not manage to take their holiday last year. 

Added to this are long working weeks – 1 in 6 Small & Medium Businesses work well above 60 hours per week. Business owners are clocking-in serious unpaid overtime with 80%+ saying they regularly work weekends.

In the UK, we are reading press reports of Small & Medium Business owners spending the equivalent of 48 days per year on admin tasks. That’s nearly one day every single week. The harsh reality is a summer without any signs of vacation or indeed ‘stay-cation’. Instead it’s ‘no-cation’ for the true heroes of the economy who generated 66% of the jobs created in the US and UK economies since 2010 - the engine room of growth, job creation and prosperity

In the UK budget two weeks ago, the Achilles heels of Productivity and Export-led growth received little airtime. Where was the bold action for Small & Medium Businesses - announcements to rapidly reform archaic business rates, lending for small business, high speed rural broadband and scourge of late payments that stifle cash flow?

One UK-based Sage customer told me how the recent budget impacts them and their business:

"We are a hard-working ambitious married couple running a small business - a hair salon, open 7 days a week, employing 30 people, and growing year on year for the past 17 years.  We kept a mortgage on our home to fund the business.  We create jobs, we provide apprenticeships and training. We embrace flexible working so that our employees can remain on our payroll and not have to resort to benefits. We already pay a living wage and are starting to pay into pensions for staff.  We continued to create jobs throughout the recession, and are still doing so despite facing a 25% increase in our rent this year. 

“So we do feel disappointed that there is very little support for hard-working ambitious entrepreneurs like us. Business rates need huge reform.  Where is the reward for the risk of being a business-owner?”

With the US general election campaigns gaining momentum, US Small & Medium Businesses are making their voices heard.  Their primary request for the new government?  To reduce business rates and business tax.  With 70% of US businesses surveyed by Sage saying they’ll each hire up to five people in the next two years, they are a force to be reckoned with and vital as the lifeblood of the economy and further growth.

Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton is just one politician vocalizing her support of Small & Medium Businesses with promises of reduced red tape, tax relief and access to new markets.  Rhetoric is one thing, action is another – let’s hope whoever is sworn in next year, is able to honour their commitments to support the true heroes of our economies.

We hear you, business owners – we’ll work as hard as you do and will champion you in your pursuit of your dreams. Fighting for the ‘Little Guys’ is a noble cause.