Taking a business through the early 90’s recession was a medal-giving moment to any small business. So, for anyone that has managed to keep going through this one, opening the doors at the New Year should be giving off a similar feeling to opening an Oscar nominee award. Why? Well, in the previous recession, Interest Rates rose, as they will inevitably this time, and it was a long road to recovery as it will be again. Even with facts, such as CML’s, stating Gross mortgage lending in November 2010 being an estimated £11.1Bn was the lowest, and fifth consecutive month in lending weakness since November 2000, being balanced with optimism in the economy and a positive GDP growth by understanding that exports rose by 2.2% in Q3, and imports increasing to 0.7%; it’s a well known fact that statistics usually have a time-lag. Therefore, as house prices drop, interest rates remain low and gold hits an all time high, any air of confidence to even things out is counter balanced by hearing Banks report that loan demands from small companies is weak and small business organisations report credit being hard to get.
Business and statistics all might give an indication of what has happened, and what therefore might be happening, but they don’t tell the stories about the people running their businesses and how they’re unlikely to be un-bruised. According to the ONS, 2009, which is not that long ago, saw business deaths exceeded business births for the first time, since 2000. There was a difference of 43,000, with London having both the highest business death rate and the highest business birth rate; Northern Ireland held the record for the lowest business death and birth rates. Interesting numbers but, just as certain indicators don’t tell the stories of people’s nervousness, inability or unwillingness to buy property, these figures equally don’t tell of business challenges, pressures and ever-ticking clock. Looking around the supermarkets over Christmas, it’s evident a race is always on, as the ubiquitous Easter Eggs are slid in, around the corner from selection boxes, to emphasise the ludicrous nature of retail racing, whilst Britain’s economic prospects ride up and down, external shock waves add unanticipated bumps and the Bank of England Governor becomes the Chancellor’s new pen-pal. When this roller coaster ride will come to a level still seems to be anyone’s guess, as each decade, since we first became of aware of the term UK Economy sometime in the 70’s, it’s managed to slide around some form of recession or depression.
We therefore give ourselves a pat on the back and, turning to the next business, offer the same and hope they in turn will do the same to the next business, and so on, in recognition of all those businesses who concentrate on the small details which make the difference to their customers, who have the ability and who have the character, strength and belief in the small business to make it count…. and make it work. Business owners who don’t ignore business fundamentals, such as value and integrity, are not to be underestimated. Granted, being in business for a long time doesn’t give an automatic right to honour, however, proven track records can’t be denied; it’s a pleasure to do business.