21st January 2023
Trudy Morris, Chief Executive, Caithness Chamber of Commerce. Navigating business challenges and seizing opportunities as we look ahead to 2023.
As we embark on a new year, it’s natural to reflect on the past in order to reset and align our goals and ambitions for the future. In my experience, this is especially true of our local business owners, who are constantly seeking ways to improve, grow and sustain their enterprises, demonstrating extraordinary dedication, ingenuity, and resourcefulness throughout. The last few years have seen unprecedented challenges and uncertainty for businesses across all sizes and sectors, and as we step resolutely into 2023 this shows little signs of easing. Businesses faced with supply chain insecurity, inflation, rising costs and volatile market pricing of commodities will need to look at all options to maximise efficiencies and improve resilience.
It is encouraging to see that despite a decline in economic optimism and a turbulent outlook ahead, a significant proportion of businesses in the Highland region remain determined to achieve growth. In fact, 45% of businesses are actively pursuing goals such as introducing new products or services and entering into new markets. Agile, forward-thinking entrepreneurs who can identify and captitalise on new opportunities could find successes within the current economic environment.
The North Highlands is renowned for its innovation and flexibility in approach to business. This has been consistently exemplified through our strong track record in manufacturing, advanced engineering, new technologies, unique tourism portfolio and thriving food and drinks industry. According to a new study from Virgin StartUp, a quarter of adults within Scotland are considering launching their own business within the next year. This trend suggests a significant level of entrepreneurial activity in the country and it’s no surprise to see this reflected in our own region.
Whilst running a business can be an inspiring and a rewarding experience, it is a significant undertaking that requires careful planning and consideration of the risks and rewards. Regardless of their size, sector, or stage of establishment, it is inevitable that all businesses will face challenges. In the current climate of rising costs businesses will need to look at innovative solutions to build resilience. It’s not always about large scale solutions which can be overwhelming and cost prohibitive, for example changing a heating system to reduce energy bills. It is sometimes looking for the more affordable smaller interventions which can see a positive accumulative impact on reducing costs and improving efficiency.
Centered at the heart of the North Highland business community, Caithness Chamber of Commerce is here to support businesses at all stages of their development journey. As an active part of the global chamber network, we help businesses grow, connect, and succeed. Caithness Chamber of Commerce connects businesses locally, nationally, and internationally with decision makers and opportunities. Representing the North Highland business voice on a national level by lobbying governments on key issues, informing policy and helping to shape the decisions that affect our region.
Caithness Chamber of Commerce offers a diverse range of support to business in the North Highlands. From access to funding, through to our business support mentoring programme we offer a unique opportunity to access expert knowledge, advice and network opportunities and encourage businesses to reach out.
The View from the Board – Ian A Neale CEO & Founder of Myconsultant.biz How to Strengthen your business big or small
We enter the New Year with challenges never seen before and it is a good time to discipline ourselves to review our businesses to ensure we are maximising our opportunities. Irrespective of size, every company needs to take time out to review their company’s position in terms of performance, how we can do things better and what is next?
Are you supporting your business with a 3-year plan? You may say, my business is too small or I don’t have time. Well, every successful and growing business has a plan to help deliver the value and results you and your investors are looking for. The plan can assist you in so many ways, from budgeting to objectives and structure. The plan can also focus on costs, marketing, sales and even operational needs. The more detail the better. There are many business books and online templates to get you started if you have never done one before. Those of you who haven’t updated your information since you opened the doors, it is time to dust it off and bring it up to date.
Having a clear strategy is so important if you want to grow and increase your market share and profitability.
A business plan can also demonstrate to a bank or an ‘angel’ investor that you have thought through your business module and you have a strategy for success.
Look to increase your awareness by attending networking and supplier events. You only need one good contact who can expose you to more leads and opportunities to assist the company. Through networking, you can even explore partnership marketing opportunities with non-conflicting businesses (two companies that don’t directly compete but have a likeminded customer base).
If market conditions continue to be challenging, don’t be slow to speak with your competitors as there are many examples where collaboration can work on so many levels, from putting two struggling businesses together to making one solid partnership – sharing resources, equipment, and customers through partnership marketing.
All businesses need to have great communications both internally and externally; never be afraid to ask for help or advice even from your own staff, colleagues, or other business owners and not forgetting networks like the Chamber of Commerce.
Make sure you find time for your business planning and strategy, as these are your masterplan to a successful 2023 and beyond.
 HIE Business Pannel, published October 22