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Patchy Recovery?



Whilst naturally, as we edge closer to a General Election, the headlines are focussing on the strength of the recovery (I know I’m a cynic at heart), talking to owners and managers of small businesses recently, I have been concerned to note the apparent patchiness of the improvement.

One month sales are up the next down then flat, is the sort of thing I have been hearing from many businesses. Construction, one of the bellwethers’ of the economy seems to be experiencing a boom in house-building but a less than full order book for civil engineering and other sectors. What is your own experience of current levels activity in your section of the small business sector?

And if you are not yet experiencing the well-publicised up-turn in activity should you sit tight and wait, or take some action and if so what? While there is always a place for social media and e-mail campaigns and the like, the quickest and most reliable way is to speak to other businesses. If you haven’t already done so (and its always surprising to me how many business owners haven’t) start by speaking to your existing customers (all of them not just those who are currently the biggest) and understand fully how they stand for future orders of current products and don’t forget to ask about anything new you or they might be considering doing which might give rise to an opportunity.

The next is to find out who is booming in your industry or sector and see if there are opportunities with them or more likely within their upstream or downstream supply chains. While you may not yet be supplying either automotive, aerospace or the renewable energy sectors (which are growing and will continue to grow) there could be possibilities within these areas with ancillary products or services needed within their supply chains that you have not yet considered.

And if these sectors don’t appeal, then there is always the opportunity afforded by HS2 to look forward to. (But let’s not start on that debate now!). In that happy position of full order books for the foreseeable future, then review your own supply chain to ensure that they can keep up with you and always remember the strain that growth puts on your own cash flow and costs. Glass half full or half empty? It depends how you look at it!

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