Paul Lindley, founder of Ella’s Kitchen, offers his predictions for the year ahead:
I’ll remember 2011 for… being named Entrepreneur of the Year at the National Business Awards – I was very proud and humbled to be recognised for the amazing journey that Ella’s Kitchen has taken over the last few short years. We also were delighted to have won a number of awards recognising our international growth – the one that absolutely astounded us was winning the Grocery Brand of the Year in Sweden award, which made the whole team realise that we have truly begun to be an international business!
2012 will be great because… we’ll be launching some exciting, innovative new ranges. We’ll also launch in at least two new big territories – so I see more trips abroad to understand families and their needs in these markets and to shout loud about Ella’s Kitchen’s arrival. I also think an endless warm summer, England’s win at the European Football Championships and Great Britain’s record haul of Olympic medals as we host a faultless, exceptional games will make us believe in ourselves again creating confidence and add shine to “brand Britain”.
One industry we’ll hear a lot from next year will be… the renewable energy sector. But it does require the government to get totally behind it, and unfortunately it has wobbled recently. Last year, it set up highly attractive incentives for people to convert to domestic solar energy through PV panel installations, and a plethora of small businesses sprang up offering services and advice. But the government has now clawed back much of the incentive. The real win would be if a big company took interest and invested – come on Richard, Virgin Power has a great ring about it! I bet that there’ll also be a high profile launch of a new green car, which, if there are any oil price shocks next year, will grab headlines. My long-shot prediction is that a major UK company will be acquired by a major Chinese company. It will start sometime soon – whether next year or later – but the world’s biggest creditor, with the biggest population, with a hugely growing middle class, and outward looking businesses with existing strategic investments abroad will come to our shores sometime soon.
The one thing that would help me grow my business in 2012 would be… a set of government policies to restore business and consumer confidence, helping SME businesses grow to become the great British businesses of the future while generating wealth and employment now. My two radical proposals would be a Consumer Excellence Tax Relief to incentivise SMEs to invest early to better understand their consumers, produce more relevant products and create more sustainable, world-beating British brands; and secondly, to expand the Enterprise Zone concept to cover areas where industry clusters are developing so that skills, jobs, knowledge, know how, ancillary services and academies in specific sectors encourage start ups to locate there and established companies to relocate there. Clustering does work – just ask the Formula One or IT industries or indeed any restaurant owner. The government has an opportunity to influence sustainable competitive advantage for Britain; it just needs radical thinking to accelerate it.
My New Year’s resolution for 2012 is… to worry less about the future, to celebrate more the present, and learn better from the past. Oh, and because kids smile 20 times a day more than adults, to remember to bring the child out in me more often!
Real Business will be running the “My 2012” series for the next month, bringing you top entrepreneurs’ views and predictions of the year ahead.
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