With a rail workers’ strike looking likely in the near future, the impact of such activity on small and micro businesses cannot be underestimated according to the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed. Chris Bryce, the Chief Executive of IPSE has called for more investment in digital infrastructure in order to minimise the level of disruption that those who are most vulnerable experience when industrial action is threatened.
For those who rely on their ability to meet with new clients to maintain the viability of their business, planned strikes on the transport network can make the difference between landing a profitable contract and losing out on forging a potentially profitable relationship. Because self employed individuals are more likely to be relying on being mobile in order to keep their businesses afloat, they are often hardest hit when they are unable to rely on public transport.
However, there are ways in which the negative impact on the smallest businesses can be reduced. Whilst larger businesses may be investigating ways of enabling their employees to work from home during the strikes, small and micro businesses may find this difficult due to the deficiencies in the digital infrastructure in the UK. For those in rural areas, consistently good internet access is not always available, meaning that conducting client meetings via video conferencing isn’t always an option, or at least not one without huge potential drawbacks.
Reliable mobile reception is another issue which is weighing heavily on the minds of those who rely on being contactable to conduct their business. Being able to stay in touch with those who make their businesses a success is vital to many people who work for themselves and having no phone reception when at home, or whilst on the road can make it difficult to do business effectively.
Should the government come through on its pledge to ensure that the whole of the UK is better connected, then this would dramatically improve the plight of those small business owners who find it hard to keep in touch with their clients and suppliers when major upheavals occur.
With all eyes on the new government, there will be plenty of people who are keen to see how the Conservatives perform in light of their manifesto pledges. The last-minute ‘small business manifesto’ was intended to demonstrate that the Tories appreciated the contribution made to the economy by those who work for themselves such as contractors, freelancers and small business owners.
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