A UNION for entrepreneurs might sound a little strange. But founder Doug Richard explains: “The origins of workers’ rights in society arose from the imbalance in power between the individual worker and the company they worked for, now that imbalance is between the entrepreneur and the government.”
Richard’s Entrepreneurs’ Union might aim to give a “voice to the voiceless,” but has no intention of acting like the unions we are familiar with: “There won’t be any strikes,” he insists. But Richard thinks it is high time that someone stood up for entrepreneurs: “Sometimes a government department that doesn’t seem connected to entrepreneurs can take an action that has unintended consequences. Just look at the immigration cap. It could stop businesses bringing in top talent from abroad.”
Richard confesses he doesn’t know what he will be lobbying for just yet but stresses there is a need for representation. When asked if he thinks the union will be replicating the work of the pressure group Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) he says: “Absolutely not. I want to represent young businesses, not just small ones. I’ve spent years trying to work out what the difference is between real entrepreneurial businesses and businesses that are small. I’ve worked out that the difference is that the young are doing something entrepreneurial. The FSB doesn’t understand the difference.”
Stephen Alambritis, founder of the FSB, disagrees: “With 213,000 members I think we have done something to encourage entrepreneurs, but the more voices standing up for small businesses the merrier.” Richard explains why the difference is important: “Businesses in their first three years of life have unique concerns.” He uses taxes as an example. Small businesses as a sector find taxes an important issue, but that is not the perspective of start-ups because most make precious little income in their first few years.
Richard’s Entrepreneurs’ Union is only a website rallying for individual and company support at the moment, but he has big plans for it. As the one time small business adviser to the Conservative Party, the chances are this is not the last we will hear about the union.