This is the time to be in the office, poring over cash-flows and analysing your cost base. This is not the time to be swanning off to conferences and “celebrating” achievements at awards ceremonies. Right? Tosh! If ever there was a time to inhale the oxygen of new ideas, to invigorate your tried-and-trusted (sorry, tired) ways of doing things (and mix it with your clients), it’s 2009. The world is changing, and it’s time to get to grips with it. I heard Ed Wray, the founder of Betfair (zero to £250m-turnover in eight years) make a very bold statement recently – NB, at a conference. He said, “now is the best time ever to start a business”. He was especially bullish about ecommerce-based ventures, which will seize pre-eminence in this time of seismic shift. He recalled, with utter bewilderment, a recent visit to Peter Jones to buy a washing machine, where he was told, by a very pleasant shop assistantm that they didn’t discount on white goods. Wray went straight home, got on the computer, bought the kit he’d been recommended for a hefty discount, and used the surplus to acquire a new tumble dryer. In early 2011, which is probably when the world will finally start to perk up, such anecdotes will feel as weird as smoking in the pub. Our utter reliance on technology for all aspects of commerce and information-sourcing; the ineluctable shift away from oil dependence; a financial system not based on unprovable, future repayment schedules; a return to long-termism… these will be the hallmarks of life on the other side – and we’d all start getting our heads around them. Where can you breathe deeply of such revelation? I’d recommend our own forthcoming Real Business events: • The Entrepreneurs’ Summit. Theme: “Don’t Just Survive, Reinvent!” May 13. Speakers include: Mark “this is my fourth recession” Dixon; Ed Wray; Stelios; Brent Hoberman; Julie Meyer; ad guru Johnny Hornby. Www.entrepreneurssummit.com• FDs’ Excellence Awards. The very best minds in UK finance. May 13. Www.fdsawards.co.uk . (PS: you can let us know what you think of your banks/auditors in our survey on the site). • First Women Awards, in association with Lloyds TSB Corporate Markets. Four hundred incredible women in one room. June 11. www.firstwomenawards.co.uk
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