Telling the truth about SME life today

Where are the green shoots?

"The media has to create good stories, I suppose," continues Sir Stelios. "But unless you were around in the thirties, I doubt any of us have been through something this severe."

Sir Stelios’ mantra is: cash is king. The survivors will be those who have enough money in the bank to ride out the worst-case scenario.

"We’re entrepreneurs who have risked our own capital and been encouraged by bank managers who were incentivised to lend, not collect.

"And now those banks will start behaving like civil servants. We need to start planning our own businesses on the basis that loans will no longer be forthcoming."

But Sir Stelios believes there are opportunities for smart business owners. Property, for example, can be bought at a fraction of the cost.

"Many of us, I suspect, started up our businesses during the dotcom boom. That was a time when the more cash you burned, the more valuable you were. Now it’s gone full circle.

"Some sectors are thriving," he continues. "I’m kicking myself that I didn’t start EasyGroceries. That certainly would have been more recession-proof than travel!"The 2009 Real Business Entrepreneurs’ Summit was held in association with Investec Private Bank.

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