Future 50 firms talk business resilience
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This month's Future 50 workshop saw partners and members discuss what makes a business resilient.
Law firm Birketts led a Future 50 workshop on resilience earlier this month – something that many of the region’s businesses have demonstrated over the past two years.
Ed Savory, partner at Birketts, said one of the key qualities of a resilient business is an ability to solve problems quickly.
“Every business has its issues, has its flaws, has its exposures and has its risks. You're never going to be in a position where you're completely bulletproof,” he said. “But some businesses are run in a manner where they are far more resilient and far more capable of managing difficult situations.
“We’re a £70 million turnover business with circa 800 people, but we have all the same issues that every business has,” he added, “so we ensure that every year we're reviewing key components that pertain towards risk.
“For example, we look at our PI insurance, we look at our premises maintenance, we look at our corporate governance, we look at our GDPR compliance, and all manner of other business risk management issues. We make sure that each of these issues is reviewed at one management board meeting every year, so they're not allowed to drift.”
Mat Waters, partner at Lovewell Blake, also highlighted the importance of risk management when it comes to resilience. “Don't confuse that with not taking the risk,” he said. “Managing risk is more about reducing both the number and impact of surprises.
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"Anyone who watches boxing will have heard the commentators say it's the one you don't see coming that knocks you down. So, the more you're doing to manage your risk, the more you're doing to forecast, the more you're doing to budget – you're softening the blows that can come at you.”
Glen Webster, business banking regional manager for Barclays, advised businesses to consider the risks presented by the global economic and political climate.
“Many businesses still operate on the basis of agreeing contracts and just hoping that the exchange rate will be favourable,” he said. “But now more than ever, if you do regularly trade abroad and you're dealing in different currencies, you really need to look at spot pricing, forward pricing and making sure you take the risk out of it.”
Making tough decisions also goes hand in hand with resilience, said Jennifer Leeder, legal director in the employment team at Birketts.
“As a leader, sometimes you have to realise that you need to make changes,” she commented. “Sometimes you will have to lose people, and you mustn't take it personally because you’ve got to make a professional decision about what's right for the business as a whole. But that doesn't mean you can't deal with things in a compassionate way.”
She added that business resilience comes from the top of an organisation. “To be a good leader, you've got to look after yourself and be on your game – not only in terms of your wellbeing, but also in terms of your skills and ability. You need your own sort of support network.”
“Resilience is all about mentality,” said Beks Houston, managing director of Smash Marketing. “If you believe in yourself and surround yourself with good people, you can overcome anything.”
James Howells, managing director of Turning Factor, added: “The biggest thing we've seen over the last two or three years is that the companies doing extremely well are the ones that are engaging with their staff. They don't have all the pressure on the leadership team – they actually have a culture which has accountability throughout – and that makes those businesses far more resilient.”
But knowing when to stop is just as important as trying to solve every problem at once, said Charlotte Bate, director at MAD-HR.
“A lot of business leaders and entrepreneurs have got that in-built resilience, but it’s not an infinite resource,” she commented. “It’s really important to take the time to refuel those resilience tanks, so we can be in the best possible position to support our organisations and deal with whatever comes our way.”