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Perfecting the art of apathy

Guess what? You've got nine sleeps to go from our paper's cover date before the GST becomes reality. Good on it.

The thing I love about us Australians is our ability to perfect the art of apathy when it comes to anything that has potentially widespread social or economic implications.

Into this bag you can throw any number of areas: Y2K, GST, elections, Microsoft law cases and so on.

This underlying apathy is perfectly captured in Toyota's "Bugger" ad, which, incidentally, is my all-time favourite - or at least equal with Budweiser's "whaazzuup" ad. I must have laughed for 10 minutes the first time I saw each of them.

Those ads illustrate the real story behind the GST. It's about to hit us even though we'd all like to pretend it's not going to happen. And saying "bugger it" won't do either. Unlike Y2K where the punters could take a gamble and hope their systems wouldn't crash, you can't escape the GST.

So, if you are one of the 100,000 small business people reportedly facing ruin because of the GST-imposed cash squeeze, you have my sympathy (or at least a shared sense of apathy). If you wanted to be a tax collector you would have got a job with the ATO, not started a channel business.

The problem is, if you have decided to sell your business because it's all too hard, you'd better do it very quickly, or you'll be forking out some GST in the process.

I find it amusing that the Federal Government is going to spend the first six months of the GST implementation ironing out all the inconsistencies by adding amendments to legislation.

If they can't figure out why fried prawns attract GST and the fresh variety doesn't, for example, how on earth will we cope with the complications of the IT industry? There is a solution, however. Last week I alluded to more good times ahead for Microsoft lawyers. Accountants are the Australian equivalent - making heaps of money trying to find a solution to a never-ending problem.

GST-wise, you will need a good accountant, but the funny thing is they are hard to find. I think the small operators have decided to sell their own businesses for the same reasons you have. Who said computers were going to create the paperless office anyway?Dot-crisisSoftware distribution is not a business I would like to be in unless I was one of the top five distributors who can afford to operate with such skinny margins. First Dataflow folded, then Edge, and now HiLad (see page 1 if you missed it).

Popular opinion suggests we have been over distributed for some time, and these companies reflect inevitable industry consolidation. But their demise also proves technology continues to have a tangible effect on channel business models.

Technology is available for distributors to make their businesses more efficient and profitable; they just need to overcome the feeling of apathy preventing change.

Let me know how you feel about distribution consolidation or GST. That is, if you could be bothered.