Workers of The World, Shove It!

Well, the stats are in, and it looks like the trend to democratic freedom in the form of operating a small business isn’t letting up.

Amidst warnings that the growth boom is peaking and big businesses are starting to pull back, especially in the resources sector, a report by the Chartered Accountants of BC showed that the number of new businesses in the Lower Mainland rose 3.0 percent in 2007 to reach 282,000.

Almost all those new businesses had less than 20 employees, which puts them in the very small business category.

Another sign that small businesses were propping up the economy came in the form of incorporations, which jumped by 56 per cent. This is a good indicator of small business growth because new businesses tend to incorporate after a year or two when revenues stabilize.

So, okay, small business is still on a roll. Does anybody care?

Not really. You see, while they all pay lip service to small business, governments and most large institutions such as banks don’t really want much to do with them. Small businesses have very small workforces and tend to operate close to the bone, financially.

In fact the large majority of small businesses in BC have less than four “employees” and rely heavily on partnering, outsourcing and contracting out to operate. This really bothers the government, which likes to see big vote-catching job creation numbers in return for favouring businesses with its attention. Banks don’t like them much because their loans are so small they barely register in portfolios filled with billion-dollar deals.

Unions aren’t real crazy about them either. It’s too hard to organize a business that has only a handful of real employees and a squad of virtual contractors to back them up. So they concentrate on old-economy sectors like resources and manufacturing, where there are big workforces.

This blind spot about small business isn’t just relative to BC. Recent Canadian reports that showed huge increases in job growth nationally were routinely dismissed by several organizations and stock market obsessed media because they almost all involved self employment. More people were becoming self-employed only because they were losing “real” jobs, banks, unions, and analysts sniffed.

So what we have here, both in Canada, and in BC – which has the highest proportions of very small businesses in the country — is the usual dichotomy of thinking between “authorities” and people in the street. The people are tired of the corporate life and want to strike out on their own as entrepreneurs, even if they have to work harder and earn less money.

Meanwhile those supposedly in charge of the economies are still locked in some time warp where everybody worked for Acme Humongous Corp. and dutifully kept their mouths shut in return for swelling pay packets.

Sorry guys, the world’s becoming a more democratic place and Canada isn’t immune. People are starting small businesses because they’re sick of working for some unfeeling corp.

Get used to it.