Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Are There Green Shoots Or Not?

A few weeks ago a government minister was castigated by the press and media for suggesting that there were signs of improvement. Let’s not talk it up, let’s talk it down!

I thought she was unfairly laughed down as a naive wide eyed enthusiast in a class of doom laden heavyweight commentators. Well now the shoots have appeared, perhaps! The mortgage people are busy, estate agents are reporting a few properties selling again. Because of that, the off shoot trades are picking up. There is a bit of work for the landscape gardeners, the decorators, the DIY shops etc. We are not out of the woods. Brokers are noting share price rises and wagging their collective burnt fingers in cautious rhetoric. The British penchant for wearing a hair shirt and lashing ourselves in perpetual penitence always notices the empty half of the glass first.

Europe’s largest economy (Formerly known as Europe’s strongest economy) is Germany and is forecasting a 6% drop in GDP for this year. That is a huge drop. Our UK figures were said to be far and away the worst of the developed nations. I am not so sure we are comparing like for like, all the time.

For small business diversity is the key. That does not necessarily mean doing things you have never done before. It does mean expanding your horizons. Spread your risks. I have always pointed out to the building trades (those landscapers, decorators, electricians, plumbers etc) that big is not always best. The big contracts may sound better and they may mean you can say you have work for a longer period of time, but consider for a moment: smaller jobs mean you get paid at a better rate, in smaller amount of course but more often. Your van with your contact details spends a short time outside several different sites/houses/locations and does its advertising job better. Any bad debts you are unfortunate enough to attract are going to be smaller and less likely to be life threatening. It is not all so straight forward as it appears.

Paying a consultant for an outside view of your business may be the making of it. When it’s your business you are in it. That means you cannot see it from the outside. That outside view , probably with experience to add that you do not have yourself is worth so much. Be careful who you engage to help though. Recommendation is a good start, and do expect to pay. In the main you get what you pay for and if you pay nothing, you cannot expect to get very much. Most things free in the commercial world are either of limited value or a loss leader for another package.

Bob Shepherd Associates will give you the outside view and help you grow your own green shoots.

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