Let’s get back to business (but, how again?)
There is only one way out of the current mess of global economics, and that’s by revitalising and growing local economies, and in some cases, from scratch. Just about every major government and the non-governmental agency agrees: It’s time we got back to business.
But the way forward is yet unplanned, and we’re not entirely sure what that landscape will look like. There is not much in the form of inward investment coming, despite predictions that the UK is set for record economic growth overall.
So, how are we supposed to grow local businesses without business investment?
That is a critical question that is going to need some unpacking.
“Be fast, have no regrets… If you need to be right before you move, you will never win” – Mark Ryan, Epidomologist at the WHO
There are many parts of that quotation that one could find inspirational. Sure, its origins were probably born more out of a moment of desperation (or something like it anyway); there are still so many ways that that sentiment belongs in this post.
First up, as a society, we will have to get to grips with the fact that our entire sphere of comfort zones, such as they were – are non-existent anymore. Frankly, should any of them remain in your circumstance, we highly recommend that you acknowledge its presence – then forget about it.
Part of moving forward and futureproofing our businesses against the pandemics that we know are lying in wait somewhere is to learn the lessons from our current soupçon of economic discontent. So while you’re rebuilding, get a thorough understanding of how more innovative management and allocation of your resources might have helped you soften the blow and perhaps weather the storm a bit better.
But to the point then, how do we grow local business in the United Kingdom when all sources seem to indicate that there’s not going to be much in the way of capital coming inbound?
Well, that depends on who you ask.
“Recovery will not be linear or uniform, and the paths of different economic sectors and businesses could diverge dramatically.”
That’s according to the consulting firm McKinsey in this fascinating article, where they’ve all but confirmed what we’ve all been thinking for some time now – the future, in some shape or way, is going to be digital. In that area, the pandemic may actually have done some good.
The digital revolution
There are a couple of ways to look at this: Either your business provides e-commerce and digital solutions, or your company uses e-commerce and digital solutions to conduct its operations.
With that in mind, the question that every small business owner is now asking of themselves should be this: how can I engage with this new digital world in ways that make sense for my business?
And many business owners have already done just that. From small local dairies that have adopted “intelligent” ordering and delivery for milk and dairy products to homes and local businesses to consultants that help businesses as those dairies get digital-ready.
This is a field in which there is just far too much money to be made if it is embraced and understood correctly, so if you’re a player in the realm of a small to medium-sized business, then it’s a no-brainer – you have to get in on the action.
Need capital? Create it
Businesses are increasingly using innovative ways to access capital that don’t involve traditional banks or traditional forms of lending. This includes peer-to-peer models and consists of some revolutionary and outstandingly innovative ways of “creating” capital.
Small businesses have taken to trading services with each other instead of cash for a portion of the invoice amount on a trade exchange basis and format.
So this means that if you are an I.T consultant, for example, and you provide consulting services to a small business that supplies office stationery. At the end of the month, your invoice for services rendered comes to £ 1000, fair enough.
But, your monthly office spending on stationery is usually around £ 100. You would invoice for
£1000 but “discount” £100, and instead they would supply you with £100 worth of stationery. It will involve brilliant accounting, and this is an elementary example because, on each end, you would have to wrestle with costs versus gross profit amounts and so on. Still, many small businesses have found ways in local communities to make this work.
It’s freeing up cash flow and keeping more of it in the bank at a time when pooling cash to reinvest has become more critical than ever.
In this way, you would have “created” capital, and if you’re passionate about this system, you will be somewhat amazed at how quickly it takes on – so take the lead in your community and see how it can grow.
Think less business as usual and more like business unusual
From the height of the pandemic to right now and onwards into the future, your business is going to have to think of ways to create additional sources of revenue that may not even be a little bit in your ballpark. Office blocks that have emptied due to the work from the home revolution are now diversifying and creating mixed-use spaces.
Businesses that used to offer executive assistance services have now become virtual assistants, courier companies that used to provide “across the city” document delivery, now also deliver lunches. Think about this company the provides Kit Buildings; now think about available property space that your business has or that you have access to; how could this be a potential money-spinner for you?
Heal thy self
No one is saying it will be easy; there are still painful months ahead for many of us, but take the time to analyse what’s happening in your local community and see who the “winners” and “losers” are – find out what they did, what they’re doing and where it’s leading them.
Innovation is a word you’re going to hear a lot of, so embrace it. Take the time to know all points of operation viz-a-viz your business operation. Take all the touchpoints into consideration, capital, risk, venture, collaboration, logistics, the works, and see where you can find the “thing” that’s going to make it all click together for you.
There is the growth coming, lots of it if you recall the article linked at the beginning of this post, but it seems like it isn’t just going to come to you; you’re going to have to get out there and grab it for yourself.