Most British business owners, myself included, are finding it hard to see the bright side. I’m currently on a campaign to expand our sales but we’re doing it centimetre by centimetre as I’m sure more economic jolts to unsettle buyers further are just around the corner.
Possibly our biggest battle, however, is that the mixed messages coming from so many different spins has left the British public apathetic and depressed. A counselling friend of mine told me that the number of people suffering from a mental illness has sky rocketed. Sadly, I don’t think TV programmes such as Dragons’ Den, or bracing words from Lords Sugar and Branson on putting the best of British forward, is actually doing anything to change that. They may indeed inspire the odd entrepreneur, but there is only so much those entrepreneurs can do without a focused and motivated workforce.
We are based in an industrial town that has been fairly hard hit by the recession. Jobs are hard to come by, and yet the number of applicants for unskilled and semi-skilled jobs is at its lowest ever, which would indicate quite simply that many people have just given up. The exceptions – those who really want a job and want to do well – shine out like beacons. More and more, we place emphasis on attitude over skills – skills we can teach, attitude you cannot.
The state of the economy has left people feeling defeated. When I started my own business, at the end of the last recession, I was mercifully insular by dint of working at home with small children. To some extent, I think my ignorance contributed to my success as it shielded me from all the negativity. If our leaders cannot convince the man on the street that things can improve, us entrepreneurs are going to have to turn insular once more, so we can inspire our workforce.