Big business is not small business


Our Prime Minister has a nice way with words. The fall in business confidence wasn’t an elephant in the room, she declared recently, but a big neon flashing light with fireworks going off behind it.

Ok. Nice imagery. But then she wheeled in the CEO of Air New Zealand, Christopher Luxon, as the head of a new advisory group to help deal with the flashing lights.

Now, I’m sure Luxon is a fine fellow and, to be sure, if you put me in charge of our national carrier it would need a new bail-out by the time we got to afternoon tea.

But the overlooked pachyderm is still sitting in the corner wondering how on earth Ardern and Robertson think that the head of a billion dollar quasi-monopoly under majority crown ownership in any way represents New Zealand business.

He doesn’t. I heard him speak at a breakfast event recently and nearly choked on my muesli as he waffled on about ‘sustainability’ and ‘culture’.

The entire revenue of my business would be a rounding error in Air New Zealand’s lost luggage department. Sustainability for me is paying the wages this week and knowing I can do so next week. I don’t care about ‘NZ Inc’, ‘bringing New Zealand to the World’ or any of the other nauseating corporate-speak of those who live in gilded cages.

I have staffing issues and shareholder disputes. The photocopier is on the fritz and for some reason the IRD likes to audit me (they probably read these columns). I spend half my life worrying about the fact that I spend too much time worrying and not enough time making sales.

If my business fails I’d be unable to pay my mortgage and we’d have to move. Probably to Kingsland.

There is nothing unique about me. There are about three hundred thousand other owners facing the same pressures. Farmers, lawyers, plumbers, mechanics, debt collectors, musicians and PR flunkies all live this twilight existence.

Grant hits the nail on the head here. For most small business owners, it is about can I pay the bills on time. It is about having the business guaranteed by you personally. About standing to lose your house, if your business fails.

Air NZ is a great company, and we need big businesses to do well. Luxon is an excellent CEO.

But Labour shows their fundamental disconnect with the private sector if they think a Council of big business leaders will make small businesses feel better about the future.

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