SALT SPRING – Recently the BC Government’s Small Business Task Force, in seeking ideas on ‘how to maintain a healthy small business environment, create good jobs and grow a sustainable economy for everyone,” asked small businesses to provide input.

This initiative is the “Ministry of Foxes” attempting to determine why the chickens in the coop are getting less numerous or gone, and then asking the remaining chickens for a remedy! Why would any government comprehend how business can succeed in an anti-business atmosphere created mostly by government, and where they are never personally impacted?

A short list of non-government, profound trends, challenges and changes that business must adapt to or contend with is:

Demographics: When younger workers have or are migrating to urban centres, rural communities are experiencing a diminishing level of services and employment. Business owners and farmers have thereby limited ability to retire or to recover their investments in a succession plan beyond abandonment.

Spending Trends: Residents in most communities direct their spending toward “experiential” over “material” products, and often live without vehicles. Purchases are more on-line, as with more seniors who favour convenience over local spending. Traditional storefront vendors see their business future as uncertain and commercial property owners face similar futures.

Impact of Taxes: With the higher tax burdens in every cost and expense, the viability of the small business segment is further challenged. Tax drives every cost and price and drives the decline in a community’s prosperity and negatively cascades to less taxes paid by business, their employees. “Government Largess is Suffocating the Very Forces that Allowed Government Largess to be Created.” Connect the Dots!

Education: Younger people are often not ready to be employed, having graduated with little ability to enter a world of personal choice and outcome-responsibility, life skills and planning, personal finance and finding a job. A new focus on trending employment opportunities such as trades, the diverse elder-care field, technology, transportation and hospitality, is essential. The best place for learning to work, is at work, but the recent loss of an entry level wage strategy will be detrimental.

Innovation and survival instinct will continue as dominant traits of the private sector!

The necessity of reducing financial obstacles and burdens including tax, and by cutting out inefficiency, duplication and by adding technological substitution for humans, will all be included in the survival processes.

I’m counting on my business to remain viable only by “out dancing”, and creatively out-running the ever-eager foxes.

Jeremy Milsom is Vice President of Salt Spring Chamber of Commerce and owner of Salt Spring Inn