Blog Archive

Page 34

Free as a Bird

As businesses operate from one business cycle to another any economic uncertainty results in change and, as business models change, reorganization occurs which can further fuel economic uncertainty. Enter the Freelancer, the person who doesn’t want, to or can’t risk being, the employee that is laid off.

 The fields in which freelancing occurs vary greatly as do the skills necessary to survive in business, therefore we thought we’d introduce a freelancer who illustrates (literally) the creative use of the diversification business model for freelancing. Clive Byers is one of Britain’s leading bird artists  but his skills are further extended to maintain his focus of self-employment.

Defining the often blurry lines of art isn’t a problem for Clive. His abilities are recognised as artist, photographer and specialist illustrator. Known for his ability to seek out the important minute details in natural history and, from his extensive experience in the field as Environmental Surveyor, he’s a true expert in bird identification.

Both expressive art and illustrating  demand fine observation from the artist but, as anyone with even the slightest interest in natural history will be aware, accuracy is imperative for the field. A skill that shouldn’t be underestimated, for both a changing world and the world of business.  Skill combined with expert knowledge are two elements that make Clive stand out, add his business being both service and product based he naturally illustrates that his success as a freelancer is his diversification business model.

He just put his wings to the test……

(Image and Article credit: Copyright SUF)

A recent game of Trivial Pursuit and a newspaper article  (which incidentally has some very interesting comments attached) prompted the question, how did the Roman Empire manage to decline when they had so much at their disposal?

From our limited understanding, we’d believed that Roman society was built on its strengths of lateral thinking and being organised, which was supported by a bloodlust and the odd war. A seemingly strong society, so what brought the changes?

The Fall of Rome: And the End of Civilization is a recent addition to our bookshelf, in which Bryan Ward Perkins  makes comparisons about our current economic climate with that of the post-Roman Empire’s. It appears that it might in Perkin’s viewpoint, of material terms, be the weakened economy through lack of economic growth; necessarily  sustained through trade and investment.

Disconnection or connections?  Their decadence and corruption from within, or attacks from outside?  With examples of industry, such as pottery shrinking, coins disappearing and secure trading routes becoming dangerous, he may have a point.

It would seem that we’re back to balancing out the order and chaos.

(Image credit: Seier+Seier+Seier  Article credit: Copyright SUF)

From the unpredictable comes pattern and structure and, in the case of The Secret Life of Chaos, lots of psychedelic footage explaining how we got here.  What a stunning programme, showing, from a universe of dust came intelligent life, order from chaos.

Chaos Theory can be applied to all sorts of things from weather to the spread of disease, even for predicting trends in the stock market.  A mathematical concept illustrating random results from standard equations; with the theory that, even though events can appear to be unrelated, small occurrences affect outcome.

Do you see where this is going?

 Chaos follows in the wake of many situations and illustrates the confusion given off with chance happenings. Finance markets use Chaos in a different way; following a specific pattern and then allowing for changes in the variables.

Do you see where this is going?

With political and economic variables taken into account, determinations using Chaos theory in the finance markets are made with fluctuating information. The prediction is what could happen, given all the information available; including what has happened.

Do you see where this is going?

Although far from being scientists or traders, we take ‘chaotic behavior’ into account when determining our customers and clients solutions. We don’t have a theory other than self-organisation is feasible even when it might appear impossible. Understanding confusion stops the chaos: Order from Chaos.

(Image and Article  credit: Copyright SUF)


Credit, as distinct from money, is generally perceived as being the function of Banks and according to consumer campaigners Which?  in their focused campaign `Britain Needs Better Banks  almost two thirds of those questioned would be on the `hate it’  side, if the Banking System were the equivalent of Marmite.


Consumers depend on banking services and as Banks include: Retail Banks, Investment Banks, Insurance Companies, Building Societies, Private Banks and new or merger ones, that’s a lot of employees as part of the financial services industry.  All necessary as part of the economic recovery. 

Suggesting little optimism, Consensus Economics  forecasts growth from a high of 2 per cent to a low of 0.7 per cent. That’s, compared with other nations,  following a sluggish recovery.

So, `love it or hate it’  every little helps.

(Image credit: Mai Le  Article credit: Copyright SUF)

Climate is what you expect; weather is what you get.

The difference between weather and climate  was much in the news this weekend. Complicated weather measurements are the information  that climate scientists need for their predictions whilst the climate of our economy is measured by its economic indicators .

Whether purchase or letting, depending upon the climate of finance, the environment responds and currently it appears to be those who can step-up to the property market and those who can’t; a Two-Tier system. As first-time buyers are becoming less able to get onto the housing market, the middle and top-end buyers are those remaining able to move around, therefore, it stands to reason, that a two-tier housing market is inevitable unless there is some support or change in the environment of home purchase. The lack of finance for first time buyers means that many can still not afford to climb onto the first rung of the ‘property ladder’ and nasty practice such as Gazumping  can be an indicator that the environment is changing.

For those at the start of home purchase it is going to get worse before it gets better,  by which we mean that although the availability of funding is likely to be deemed as more accessible, the criteria necessary to obtain such funding will become stricter. During the climate of excess borrowing some accessed finance to which, at that time, seemed achievable to repay but in the current environment has proved that a long term view hadn’t unfortunately been taken.

We used to feel out on the fringe with our attitude towards the environmental impact of climate change and the environment of finance, however, we stand firm in the belief that climate change can be an opportune and significant time for long term trends and attitudes to be changed in all areas of our lives.

(Image and Article Credit: Copyright SUF)

In the December’s meeting of the Bank of England MPC it was agreed to keep Interest Rates at 0.5%  and to keep 200 billion pounds limit on quantitative easing

In the November 2009 meeting QE had been voted to be increased by 25 billion pounds , an increase from that agreed in March 2009, at the time when Interest Rates were reduced from 5% to 0.5%

The Bank of England Act 1998  gives operational responsibility for setting interest rates to meet the Government’s inflation target to the Bank of England, whilst operational decisions are taken by the MPC ( Monetary Policy Committee). In the unlikely event that a Mr Frank Pickle were Committee Secretary for the MPC,  the minutes, precisely indicating every nuance, would likely still be being written especially as increases in QE have not been ruled out for 2010, after the November 2009 extension to the program of asset purchases is complete by the February 2010 meeting.

If, like David Horton CBE, you would never want to miss a Committee meeting, the Committee meets monthly, and minutes of its meetings are released on the Wednesday of the second week after the meeting takes place.

Our point of interest is much simpler. We’d like to know if there is an Owen Nesbitt amongst the Committee, with his list of implausible but frighteningly possible excuses for being late… and is there a Jim Trott to brighten things up a bit?   ” N…n…n…….. Yes, no ” ?

(Image credit: Rich Kang   Article credit: Copyright SUF)

And so another year and another decade starts in which all good intentions are there, in the beginning, but what risks lie ahead and what gambles will be taken?  How achievable are objectives?

We have a distraction at SUF headquarters which we won’t be giving up as our New Year Resolution: Buzzword Bingo.  The objective is to discover the next buzzword or phrase in terms of finance or the economy before it becomes popular and, after claiming it, see how many times it occurs within a week or so in the media. No big prizes, the winner just gets to choose their next word first. It could be said that a seasoned betting person might have the upperhand in such a game, especially if big prizes were involved, and going for the underdog in the hope of their long-shot netting a win.

A whole myriad of words and phrases became part of everyday language last year; credit-crunch, bailout, meltdown, bankster, quantitative easing, subprime, toxic, stimulus package, housing bubble, green shoots, recession, depression, our-Government-says. Finding the rank outsiders became a test in itself and we think even the professional gambler might have struggled, especially as some of our claims managed a second blooming as the financial lexicon became a bubbling cauldron with words and phrases almost overflowing and the long shots being few.

Meanwhile, Ladbrokes had a different game going by running odds on the 25 candidates for the Nobel Prize in Economics. The long-shots came out on top for their work which, although hadn’t been considered pure economics, was topical as it focused around ‘economic governance’ and was given to Elinor Ostrom  and Oliver Williamson.  Ostram, apologies at this point to anyone who understands her work in detail, claims that when a market fails it doesn’t necessitate government regulation as the only solution; there are other ways beyond free market or regulation. Williamson, apologies again, was cited for his studies on how organizations are structured.

Economic concerns have ‘Gambling with our Future’ as a phrase that could be on many a buzzword bingo card so who will see the pitfalls and have the confidence to air reservations?

Being in place to have access to relevant information that results in an optimum outcome, including where appropriate, accessing external advice, to avoid or reinforce resolves is always a challenge but never a game.

(Image credit: Danielle Myers  Article credit: Copyright SUF)

A genuine thank you to all our colleagues in business and to those who have allowed us to present their business models over the past year.

 Thank You, we not only enjoyed writing them but learnt something from you all, especially:

Fraser Doherty  –  SuperJam

Ali DeeganCV Cafe

Bernadette Farrell –  Sullivans

Carl HortonHorton Welding Supplies

Michael PritchardLifeSaver Systems

Mick and Kate GloverCuckoos Nest Pottery

Matt and Claudia WallerHawthorn Heavy Horses

Eve and Alex Rutherford- DoakDog and Bone Public House

Liz Lee Fantastic Funerals

In our final Outside the Box we talked about being able to sing out I Did it My Way, an anthem for many, not least amongst the ranks of self-employed. As this year closes on a particularly challenging year, in the economy, we’d like to suggest in the spirit of entrepreneurism:

Some things in life are bad, They can really make you mad. Other things just make you swear and curse. When you’re chewing on life’s gristle, Don’t grumble, give a whistle,
And this’ll help things turn out for the best, and……

YouTube Preview Image

Not a new philosophy but one we enjoy – hope you do too.

(Image credit: Vistamommy)

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