I tend to agree with the latter. I think that the core readership of Real Business – the SMEs – will find themselves with a wealth of opportunity if we just keep an open mind. We might have to change our plans, be open to moving in unexpected directions and flexible in what we offer, but is any of this necessarily bad? In fact, should businesses not be run with this mentality all the time?
It is human nature to fear the unknown and resent changes that are forced upon us. But I think the entrepreneurs who will fail are those who want to push blindly forward with their old modes of business and follow plans which were written to guide them through an altogether different set of circumstances.
This is really where the old argument that small businesses are better equipped to take advantage of new opportunities is proven right. And it works in reverse – they can also take action to avoid adversity much more easily. To put it another way, the Titanic crew knew they were headed for the iceberg long before they hit it, but the ship was too big and ungainly to avoid it. Someone on a much smaller, more nimble craft would have easily avoided danger. And it is the same right now for those of us trying to run a business.
I hope that one benefit of the ever-weakening sterling is that Britain will experience a resurgence of exporting, which should help to maintain and strengthen the manufacturing businesses we have left and create opportunities to open more manufacturing plants in Britain. This would help us move from a financial services economy, which we all know is not the industry to be in right about now. "Made in Britain" still carries a certain kudos on products for international consumers, especially at the premium end of the consumer spectrum.
Speaking of the top end of the market, I personally think that with consumer confidence generally low and spending patterns obviously reflecting this, it is better to be at one extreme of the market or the other – either with a high price, high quality offering or a good, solid value proposition.
The UK, especially London, is by no means short of ultra-high net-worth individuals, mostly from Russia and the Middle or Far East – and their spending does not seem to be slowing. At the other end of the scale, the number of consumers using price as a key purchasing criteria has naturally increased as belts have tightened nationwide. Where I wouldn’t want to be is in the middle.
So, a very happy and healthy new year to everyone. I hope you all find that the glass can be half full, instead of half empty, in 2009 despite what the media say.
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