So is the economy really improving for most normal mortals or are we being sold a load of old pre election clap trap?
I actually wrote this article in a self confessed fit of pique in March last year after finding my inner feminist shouting at the late evening news after hearing some pretty appalling sexist comments from a member of a certain political party.
Wondering if we were truly progressive or merely still crawling out of caves in regions of the UK, I reached for my laptop and started typing away. Fury salved and shared with colleagues, I filed the article away – only to be reminded of it by Phil when putting this newsletter together.
He thought it was rather apposite that it should be included, I thought that the lack of change and movement in a year was both telling and rather ironic.
Given that the MDHUB Team collectively spend pretty much every day of our working lives working with and hearing opinions from over 130 growing businesses in Sussex through members and our partner projects, there is no doubt that the question of the state of the economy is the number one question we get asked and has been for the last 7 years.
In a culture with so many of us wanting results “right here, right now" just how are we actually doing in real life terms locally?
We are happy to share our apolitical, intuitive and informed views with you based on what we are hearing across all industry sectors and seeing around and about.
Are salaries rising significantly? There is very little discussion at all around increasing salaries and actually we are not hearing that employees are becoming too demanding as such... quite yet. Where there is demand it is tending to be generationally led by the under 30‘s.
The good news - There are indicators that some bonus payments are being re-introduced based on an increase in profits.
We suggest that many companies and individuals are still playing catch up on finances and will be for a good while to come.
Hawk like cash flow management is still required.
Increase in business? - For most it is a slow burn.
The good news - companies that are very specialist in what they offer and who “mined” their niche and stayed with what they do brilliantly, appear to be accelerating their growth more quickly than broader-based businesses.
Whilst you don’t need us to tell you that focused use of Social Media is having a revolutionizing effect on business growth for many companies, it is still a very human connection that appears to be at the forefront of driving these businesses.
Good news - Fantastic customer and employee/director relationships – many of which have taken a long time to nurture – really do seem to be a key contributing factor to these successes.
Working with customers, suppliers and employees through the good times and the bad, does form a very special bond and is not to be underestimated.
Take Steve Hayman and Terry Nitman – Joint MDs of Cheesmur Building Contractors – who bravely undertook a MBO in 2009 of a failing, but established Sussex building company, when most of the UK building industry was on its knees. By mid 2014, they had turned the company around to a £13.5 million turnover, are in profit and through all the many ups, downs and knife edges – are still happily talking to one another and have potentially one of the best combined senses of humour in the business. They even share their awards jointly – MD of the Year (Sussex Business Awards) and Business People of the Year (Lewes and District Awards). This just goes to show that you do not have to do it alone. Share the love!
Value for Money? - everyone still wants the best deal ALL of the time.
A tough call as whilst we all want to feel we get the best value for money in what we are purchasing, it can be exhausting all of the time for everyone involved in the deal making and you might just be missing out on a really good, longer term investment by squabbling away over a few pounds and pence here and there.
You do get what you pay for, an old adage that runs even more true today.
Confidence levels? - Given that we have all been pretty beaten down and bored by aspects of the media and the reality of business for the last few years, signs of proclaimed confidence may have quite a magical, if somewhat, some would say, short term effect on confidence levels.
The good news - Our MDHUB happy factor measurement (where we ask MDs to score themselves between 1 (utterly miserable) and 5 (very happy) at every workgroup has seen a marked increase between March 2014 and February 2015 with far more 4’s being the norm than during the recession.
So….who are you going to vote for in the 2015 elections?
Without mentioning any names (you all know who we are talking about ) I think it’s great that our democracy is generating a lot of very lively debate around both home and work tables as to who people may vote for at the moment. This is probably one of the most positive signs of all……as it means we are not as apathetic and worn out as we think we might have become (and hopefully, we have been spurred on by the fierce energy shown at the Scottish Referendum?) and that we still very much want positive and significant change and that we really do care fundamentally about our futures.
So in the spirit of an MDHUB workgroup ……if I were to ask you to imagine if you were running the country what would be the one big thing you would change and why? Go vote for it...