Saturday, May 05, 2007

A brave new world...

So we sat in the very posh, very plush solicitors office in a tower block in the centre of Birmingham, a city which incidently looks no better than it did the last time I was there twenty years ago, how strange that some city's just have no soul or unique trademark to them.

So we sat at their large conference table and we stared at the banks and banks of paper that lay in front of us for signing and I wondered if all of these dead trees were really necessary to introduce two new directors to our little company and allow one existing director to resign.

But it all was and the first suprise was that I was chairing the board meeting, chairing the board meeting with not one fooking clue of what was going on here. It was all theoretical anyway and the extremely sharply dressed solicitor on £300 an hour actually guided us through the procedures, handing us document after document for signing and witnessing until eventually, one hour later, he told me that I could sign the minutes and declare the meeting closed and Ned, Suzanne and myself each received a sparkling new one pound coin as our remuneration for the share transfer - mine will be framed and put on my office wall - I sold most of my share in the company for one pound.

Yes I hear you all shouting at the computer monitor - "are you fooking crazy ?"

Let me explain.

For three years now we have struggled, the three of us, to maintain our market share for our business, mainly against competition but significantly against the stanglehold of UK taxation that all businesses are now suffering from and whilst I support this labour government and their plans for public expenditure, I am one of the ones who has been squeezed for tax until no more blood drips from the wounds - we were skint.

We were skint and in a tailspin.

Its a classic business scenario, you sell something, the customer pays you, the money goes to pay a tax bill, next week you win another order, you now have no money to purchase the goods, you lose the order, you have no income - and a version of that game has been played out now for the last three years, we are lucky in that one income stream involves no expenditure and so that is what we have been surviving on but tax bills have gone unpaid, the overdraft has run right at its limit, suppliers have had patience stretched to the limit, we have not drawn wages - we have been on a wing and a prayer for too long and we had had enough to want to walk away from the whole sorry affair six months ago.

Which is precisely when one of our software suppliers walked into the office to demonstrate their latest release and try and get us to sell more - when he left the office, shocked, he had tentatively promised to investigate a take-over of our business, and yesterday was the culmination of that.

Since christmas they have given us an unlimited credit line, arranged payment terms with the Revenue and our fookin twats of a bank (more later) and left us free of red tape and admin in order to get out and do what we actually want to do - sell to customers - and our turnover has increased by 19% on the same four month period last year - more importantly we are jointly on the verge of negotiating the largest supply and maintenance contract in either of our company's histories.

After yesterday I am just a minority shareholder in the company that my grandfather started, but I am free of the admin that strangled and nearly killed us and in fifteen years time when I rest my bones in retirement this minority share will be worth far more than the one pound that my majority share was worth just two days ago. In addition I am now on a proper salary package, a regular wage, I don't have to wait until everyone else has been paid before I pay myself, I can count on money being in my personal bank acount at the end of every month, remuneration in excess of what I was paying myself, a big dividend promised for the year end, a huge car allowance (double what I allow myself) , and nearly seven weeks holiday a year - I've only ever taken a maximum of ten days in any single year since 1984 - I'm so happy that I've been whistling "zippy do-dah" out of my arse all night long.

More importantly we have a future, I sold my company for one pound and bought a future, corny, but it feels good today.

No comments: