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Small is Beautiful [Umbrellas for the Self-employed]

Guest Post by Euphrosene Labon

Like Gandhi and Schumacher, I believe that small is beautiful. Unfortunately, we are living in uncertain times, where the only certainty is of yet more governmental micromanagement. Raising the business drawbridge, many small and medium sized enterprises are opting to stay small, to avoid hiring employees, and burdening their bottom line with more bureaucracy.

A while ago, I wrote about the necessity for innovation in employment contracts — that everyone from ‘mailboy’ to chief exec would be on a self-employed contract. My thinking then, and now, is that each of us should reclaim our responsibility. That is one way to expand yet retain the self-determination of the small business mind.

But what of those who need motivation, and a regular pay packet? What of those whose minds need to think ‘PAYE’? Entrepreneurial minds will find a way round that too. Many years ago I wrote to the Department of Trade and Industry at the time, suggesting a similar modus operandi.

No organisation of any size wants to manage multiple individual contracts. However, individuals should take responsibility for sorting their own contracts, which in turn could be held by an umbrella organisation. Indeed many unions are ideally situated to take on this commercial role.

In essence, an employee could stay in the same job for their entire working life, but holidays, pay rises, sickness, and maternity leave would be down to however they were individually negotiated. Those unable to negotiate for themselves could turn to umbrella outfits which would be created to maintain both contracts and needs. A sort of MLM for the masses.

The self-employed-contract-for-all might also result from globalisation, if not imploding, then at least becoming so competitive as to be unwieldy.

Is it time to foster the philosophy of ‘small is beautiful’ again? Gandhi may have been a funnily-dressed brown man but to some (me included) he was a great advocate of decentralism — localising economic and political power to return power and responsibility to the people. Indeed Schumacher called him ‘the most important economic teacher today’. Schumacher and Gandhi may yet have the last laugh.

Euphrosene Labon is an author, artist, journalist and copywriter. Her specialised subject is everything to do with mind body spirit. However, she is also a pragmatist, having spent over 25 successful years in IT sales and business development. Visit