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As the storm continues, don’t bury your head in the sand

28th October 2011


As developments in Europe spark fears of a severe deepening in the global financial crisis, leading to speculation over the possibility of a double dip recession, the humble SME must again prepare to be hit by powerful blast waves from the European impact zone. What can small companies in the North East do in preparation to weather yet another storm, asks David Howell?

Let’s face it: There’s been very little ‘good’ news for SMEs in some time now. It seems that every story of slight growth is suffocated by an endless pattern of market concerns, leaders gathering, proposals announced, followed by a period of inertia before it becomes clear that said proposals will not solve the given problem.

Yet we go on in business, doing the best we can to survive and, for those that do, undoubtedly growing stronger in the process. Often it feels like this is all we can do: weather the storm and hope that the decision makers can eventually restore an economy which functions at all levels.

However, the people who make these decisions, even locally and regionally, need to know what is happening at ground level. Business owners and those engaged in enterprise need to take time out of just surviving from time to time, and shout about our circumstances.

Policy makers can only determine whether their measures are working if they have accurate and timely data on performance from SMEs. Don’t give them an excuse: be as transparent as possible and make sure people are aware of the challenges you are facing; be it your bank manager, a local politician, company investors, or even your facilities provider (go easy with these sensitive souls!).

The global situation is worrying, but as someone who deals regularly with local policy makers, I wouldn’t hesitate to offer reassurance to any North East SMEs that at a local level, everything that can be done is being done to support enterprise. Micro finance is again becoming available, and investors are actively scouting. People are willing to listen, and when communication is two way, the results will be more effective for everyone.

The ‘head down and carry on’ approach is stoic and admirable, but if we stand up and tell the world what we see happening in our respective industries from time to time, we just might see speedier improvements for everyone in business.

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