Have you ever wondered how to get even more from your people in the workplace? Well, this is probably your last chance to find out at taxpayers’ expense due to the demise of the much, maligned generic business advice provider, Business Link.
I’m not going to pretend I’ve ever been a fan of the service. In principle, I think public services should either correct a market failure, promote social innovation or do something to address a social injustice. The provision of generic, basic business support does none of these things.
There probably is some justification for an online repository of the basic things that everyone really needs to know before starting a business – this information is available elsewhere but it’s justifiable to have it in one, easy-to-find place – but at £190 million per year, Business Link is £189 million a year more expensive than it needs to be to provide that function.
It’s not difficult to start a business. I did it with a couple of friends when we were all 22. All we needed was £5 for a legal signature on our company documents and £20 to get Companies House to register the company. The documents were available free on the internet. Then all we had to do was sell some goods and services for more than it cost us to provide them.
If you can’t work out how to start a business for yourself without the aid of state-funded support staff then fate, or possibly a deity, is probably sending you the subtle message that business is not the game for you – and it’s kindly providing you with that message before you’ve started a long, painful journey in a direction that is wrong for you, wrong for your family and wrong for wider society.
Once your business is up and running you should pay at least some cash for business support – including by joining umbrella organisations that are relevant to the sort of stuff you do – if you need it. Or get other businesses – or people you know who work for businesses – to give you advice for free.
I don’t expect I’ll be making a habit of supporting cuts – and people losing their jobs is never something to celebrate or take lightly – but I think this is the right decision. As always, though, I’m ready and willing to listen to explanations of important work that Business Link does that others don’t do.