Three key ways to build resilience in business, and how pro-business policies can support future growth

In May 2023, we hosted a roundtable event with key business leaders and OakNorth customers to discuss the power of resilience in business. We heard directly from those who have had to adapt and become resilient both in businesses and government, as well as Heartwood Collection Executive Chairman, Mark Derry, and former Chancellor of the Exchequer Lord Hammond.

We took three standout points about resilience from Mark’s talk on how his business has adapted, as well as the key role the government can play in supporting businesses from Lord Philip Hammond.

Vision

Setting a clear vision of where you want to go and how you’re going to get there is essential for any business to succeed. But where you’ll be able to develop a truly resilient mindset is by having plans that cover the good and the bad, preparing for lots of eventualities so that when things don’t go to your ideal plans, you’ll be primed and ready to deal with it.

Mark Derry’s Heartwood Collection is an example of a business altering its plans to make sure it not only survived but thrived post-covid. Rather than just carrying on and offering the same pub food as normal after the pandemic, they saw the growing trend for the demand for restaurants with rooms and have incorporated offering overnight stays for diners in their next gastropub openings.

Perseverance

There’s a huge amount of value in continuing to operate during tougher times. If you can establish a name for yourself and earn a reputation for sticking it out, you’ll be remembered by customers as a name to return to. And for hospitality businesses like the Heartwood Collection, having this tenacity is critical to surviving. So when conditions start to pick back up, your business is still in the game and will likely be in a stronger position from having weathered the storm of the difficult times.

Having seen more difficult times and kept operating regardless will help to build resilience across your business, leaving you better prepared to navigate the next obstacles in your path.

Coming out of the pandemic, Heartwood Collection was in a very strong position, having successfully used debt financing during this period, and, in 2023, had eight restaurants in development.

Talent

Having the right people to keep you going is highly valued by Mark. From the senior managers who can plan for ways out of tougher periods to the restaurant staff still making a difference for your remaining customers, you need everyone in your organisation to play their part. 

This feeling is also shared by our CEO Rishi Khosla, as making sure you can find and attract talent is a worry for leaders. Accessing talent is tough in the UK right now, especially for scaling businesses. And with skill shortages leading to 80% of tech start ups needing to invest further to fill the gap, it’s no wonder that companies are turning to migrant workers as a solution and proving it’s hugely important to find and keep hold of the best talent for your business.  

So, whether your people are devising top-level strategies to keep your business going or maintaining your brand’s strong reputation by continuing to deliver memorable customer experiences, it’s their efforts that will power your way out of difficult times, make your vision a reality and keep you resilient.

Having the right approach to building toughness is essential for businesses to succeed, but what will have an even bigger impact are the policies implemented that affect how companies are run. Changes to corporation tax, trading laws and duties can make or break a business, no matter how resilient you thought you were. 

Following on from the inspiring outlook of Mark Derry’s successful and adaptable business, Lord Hammond shared the impact of the government’s role and how bad policy choices made by the government can be equally as bad for businesses.

The power of a pro-business government – thoughts from Lord Hammond

Lord Hammond spent over 20 years as an MP with many of those years also seeing him hold senior cabinet posts like Foreign Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer. He had plenty of exposure to decisions that affected business and spoke openly at our dinner about his views on what is needed for pro business approach that can be summed up below:

The government and its approach to pro-business policies can make a huge difference in how companies operate. They could choose to back businesses with policies that will make the running of companies smoother and get rid of unnecessary belt-tightening. Or poor decisions can see businesses bearing the brunt for years, hugely limiting their future growth prospects.

Business leaders would be favourable to policies that not only encourage business but also remove red tape. You could see examples of this in the proposed Liz Truss 2022 mini-budget, which saw the introduction of reduced VAT on shopping, cutting dividends tax and proposed changes to national insurance and stamp duty. But the unfunded cuts led to chaos in markets, and the uncertainty drove up mortgage rates, as confidence was lost in the UK.

What we’ve learned from the Liz Truss administration is that businesses value certainty as well as pro-business policies. Businesses will welcome policies that will allow them the freedom to expand, but not at the expense of an uncertain horizon. It is up to the government to balance policies that give businesses the freedom to grow whilst being sensibly funded and keeping the UK a reliable and stable place to do business. 

If you’ve taken your own resilient business to a place where you’re considering a business loan, then a tailored lending solution can help you realise your next expansion plans. Fill out our short online form to see how we can help you.

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