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John Childress

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Bad Company

Now and then we had a hope that if  we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates.  ~Mark Twain

In my mind far too much attention is focused on big business.  Politicians pander to them, make concessions to appease them, skew the tax laws in their favor and allow them to manipulate their balance sheets with offshore investments, R&D credits and other legal tricks. Sure big business is important to the economy.  But for Starbucks to pay zero tax in the UK on hundred of millions of profits?  Wish I could do that (both the zero tax and the hundreds of millions).

 

But there is a group even more important to the economy and the health of our nations, small businesses.  Few of us realize that small businesses:

  • provide 60% to 80% of the net new jobs annually
  • account for 97% of all U.S. exports of goods and produce 14 times more patents per employee than large firms
  • account for 52.6% of all retail sales
  • make 46.8% of all wholesale sales
  • Women own 10.4 million small businesses in the United States (nearly 50%), generating $1.9 trillion in sales.
  • Small businesses employ 40 percent of high-tech workers (such as scientists, engineers, and computer programmers).

Small business is vital to a nation’s economic health and growth. And in developing countries it is the energy and creativity of small and emerging businesses that hold the promise for economic growth and prosperity.

The Bitter Truth is …

Many of my friends, many of your friends, and a large number of us out there in the world either own or work in a small business.  And we know the truth.  Small businesses struggle to survive and it doesn’t help that they are under constant attack.  In many cases the attacker is our own government, passing laws and regulations that are overly onerous on the small business.  For example, the average US small business spends nearly $10,000 per employee (that’s above salary, benefits, etc.) just to stay in compliance with government regulations.

And who stands up for the small business in times of trouble?  Practically no one. Law firms don’t want to deal with the legal issues of small firms – there’s not enough money in it for them.  Lawmakers respond to the big lobbying firms hired by large corporations but not to the cries of the small business person.

To make things worse, a growing class of criminals have targeted small businesses through fraud, extortion, theft, coercion and of course, robberies.  Well over 85% of all business crime is against small businesses!  And over half the crimes against small business are not reported by the owners because they didn’t think it would achieve anything (based on previous experience) and believe the police would not be able to succeed in getting a prosecution.  And sadly a quarter of small business owners don’t even trust the police to help find the criminals.

In addition, the proliferation of the Internet, Internet hackers and scammers will certainly increase the number of crimes against small business. Not only do small business owners have to struggle to make ends meet; they have to protect themselves as well.

So in my own way I have written a novel to help draw more attention to the plight of small business against organized and petty crime.  It’s called Bad Company and features a ruthless band of pirates disguised as consultants and small business advisors. They target and prey on small businesses in trouble. This eBook (available on Kindle US and UK and other eReaders) describes how they ruined one particular business.  Had it not been for one person, Josh Steele, both victim and hero of this novel, many more lives could have been ruined.

Bad Company is purely a work of fiction!  However the idea for a band of  “pirates” preying on small businesses came from an actual experience I had a few years ago running my own small wine business in California.  The new CEO I hired for my company (since I had moved to London) looked great on paper but was totally ineffective and fiscally irresponsible with company money.  She even purchased personal items with the company credit card. And yet the references I spoke with before hiring her gave glowing reports and her resume was superb!

Worst of all after nearly bankrupting the company no attorney would take my case against this person.  It wasn’t big enough for them. A waste of their time! I should have been more careful, they said!

I am not proud about this experience as a small business owner because it negatively impacted my friends and dozens of employees. But during this fiasco I personally experienced what small businesses are up against and I will never forget the frustration, pain and financial loss.

There are very few willing and effective advocates for the small businessperson when they are cheated or taken advantage of.  The legal and regulatory system seems totally focused on big corporations.  Notwithstanding the vital importance of small businesses to the economy, they are constantly at the mercy of countless frauds, cheats, liars, con artists, and perhaps, even pirates!

A very good friend of mine used to say: “the best defense is a good offense!”  It is time we band together and support each other to protect a way of life that is vital to the health and well-being of our economy.  Small business owners need to share information, talk about real and potential threats, share ideas, look out for each other, bring in the police early and not just after the fact, support community associations of small businesses.  Big government is not going to protect small business so we must protect ourselves and each other.

Bad Company is a historical thriller with connections between 18th Century pirates and modern-day small business pirates. I hope you enjoy reading Bad Company and that it not only entertains, but also informs and spurs you to action.

 

 

Tight Lines . . .

John R Childress

E | john@johnrchildress.com