As the owner of a software company serving a sizeable small business community, I find myself involved in discussions with suppliers and, on occasion, government on matters affecting not only my customers but others in similar businesses. What usually starts as a technical discussion often moves to commercial terms.

It is a privilege and a frustration that I am in this position. A privelige because of the trust implicit is such representation. Frustration because the real stakeholders, my customers, ought to have their concerns heard.

When such discussions involve newsagents I am able to wear two hats – being a newsagent as well for the last eleven and a half years. I get to say my piece direct to decision makers which other newsagents would never get in front of. I treat such opportunities very seriously.

It is my experience that big business and government rarely understand and or consider the implications on small business of decisions they take. Sometimes, representations as these meetings work and those on the other side of the table seeking out a more equitable solution. Other times the barriers go up and they focus only on the benefits to them and ignore the needs of their small business ‘partners’.

It can be a fine line and an uncomfortable balancing act, representing a customer base on IT matters and getting their message across about equitable commercial terms.

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