It may be a little late to wish all the best for 2017 and we’re four months on from the Islamic and Jewish new years (both fall towards the end of September), but I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a healthy, prosperous and interesting Chinese new year to all, which is the year of the rooster.
Irrespective of which new year you celebrate, as my colleague Simon Turton, who runs Opera PR, rightly points out: “The problem with New Year’s resolutions is that we don’t tend to see them through, which can lead to a loss of self esteem that actually means we end up feeling worse than if we hadn’t made the resolution in the first place.”
With the current trend for Tweets emanating from the Oval Office, I thought that I would pass on two resolutions that I rather like. The first is: ignore what you can’t control; control what you can’t ignore and the second, more from a business perspective, is: keep a lid on your costs and overheads at all times.
With the first businessman to be installed in the White House since Jimmy Carter — the peanut farmer — it is noticeable that President Trump is already implementing policies that he endorsed on the campaign trail, however unpopular with some people. This is in stark contrast to many politicians who like to make headline-grabbing announcements, but who never seem to explain how their promises will ever be delivered — too often it’s all style, no substance. I would certainly like to know when work will start building the 1,000,000 new homes that the government promised to deliver within five years.
When President Carter vacated the White House and returned to his farm, he allegedly found that those who had been left in control under a so called “blind trust” (accountants and lawyers) had virtually ruined the business. Perhaps this is why the incumbent president seems to be ensuring that “the blood stays next to the money”.
Whilst people are rightly very concerned about the likelihood of the US becoming protectionist (but hopefully not isolationist) the prime focus for UK businesses in general, and individual business proprietors in particular, must be the exporting of goods and services (the provision of which at a professional level we are world leaders) — to the US and the Middle and Far East.
Of course, as a country we are going to remain an importer of goods, a point reinforced when I watched a recent news item about the first freight train that arrived in Barking directly from China, having completed the 7,400-mile journey. The good news for companies looking to export is that the train will not be going back to China empty; it will be used to send a variety of British products to China, which are increasingly sought after by the Chinese.
The arrival of the freight train means that China is now open to British businesses that had previously found exporting too expensive or not cost effective to send anything less than a full container. Now, companies can send as little as just one pallet of products so that they can dip their toes in a veritable ocean of opportunity.
But, whether you’re planning to export or simply wish to boost your business here in the UK, it is important to keep sight of the wood rather than the trees and to remain focused. To help drive your business forward I really like Mike Frisby’s simple template (which you can download here) that will help you to prioritise, focus and deliver.
And, for those of you who feel that running a small business is limiting just look at Keystone Law. When I first joined them nearly 14 years ago there were 20 consultant lawyers and a London-based central office with three staff. The company has now expanded to 200 consultant lawyers, supported by a staff of 39 and offices in four jurisdictions. In the week when a well-known international law firm’s London office was being placed in administration (with debts of over £25 million), it was gratifying to see that Keystone has been recognised by Legal Week as one of the best law firms in five categories including — and this is the one that I am particularly impressed with — technology and innovation.
So, well done James Knight and the rest of the fabulous team at Keystone for proving E F Schumacher’s theory that “small is beautiful”.
Xīn Nián Kuài Lè 新年快乐 (Happy Chinese New Year)