Opinion: “Family is the foundation stone of Britain’s economic success”

Original article written by Stephen Fear for the Bristol Post on 5th December 2017 (also featured on SouthWestBusiness.co.uk on 22nd December 2017).

With Christmas approaching, many family businesses will be under pressure to produce the products or services they provide to the nation.

The private sector employs over 26 million people in Britain, with family businesses employing more than five million of them.

To say that family is the foundation stone of Britain’s economic success is no exaggeration.

Business is a vitally important function in any economy, so the principal of joining this together with family values builds a foundation for success which is profound.

Whether you are a plumber from Speedwell or run a decorating business from Westbury-on-Trym it is likely that you are part of a family business.

Tradespeople are vital so it is important that we, as a nation, train more of them. We need more qualified plumbers, electricians, plasterers, bricklayers and other skill sets, especially with Brexit looming in 2019.

Many industries are short of skilled staff but the construction industry, in particular, is drastically short of skilled tradespeople.

When I hear the government say “we will build more houses”, I wonder how they are going to do it.

We need to develop more fast-track apprenticeships so that we can deliver more skills, faster, to the workplace.

That will be the key that unlocks so many of the doors currently closed to people wanting to rent or buy homes. Importantly it affects the affordability of homes too!

I have always believed in the work ethic. My dad used to say, “There is no job not worthy of respect”, something that I have always believed.

As Mark Knopfler sang in his song The Scaffolder’s Wife, “Don’t Begrudge Her The Merc It’s Been Nothing But Work” many of our small-business owners work 80 hour weeks with no minimum wage or guaranteed income.

They often put their homes on the line to secure loans from banks in a bid to grow their business. This desire for personal growth puts power and drive into the economy and inevitably creates jobs and added value for society.

Judging the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards in London a week or two ago, I met many people hoping to build their own wealth. They will inevitably build that of the whole country too. The two are inextricably linked.

I believe in supporting entrepreneurs because it is essential that they succeed. If responsible business succeeds we all gain.

Family and business are kindred spirits. Both give stability and a sense of purpose to our lives.

From independent newsagents to bricklayers, and from truck drivers to cafe owners, many are self-employed businesspeople who work long hours to make sure our lives move along more smoothly.

It is essential that any future government, of whatever political persuasion, recognises the importance of enterprise.

Encouraging more businesses to be created, and those that already exist to succeed, is the single most important element in the success of our economy.

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