Apparently theres an election going on. Apparently we voted ‘Out’ in the referendum. Apparently ‘we didn’t know what we were voting for in the referendum’ according to some people. It’s likely to be the same story with the general election too. Too much spin, Too many cringeworthy interviews. No clear direction. No real ideas. And not a genuine coherent plan for Brexit. We’re picking the best from a bad bunch yet again, and with no real confidence in any of them.
Lets safely assume that Brexit is going ahead. And for those that voted ‘stay’, stop f###ing bleating about the result. Its called democracy and if you don’t really like it because you lost, go somewhere that will happily do everything you want… Sorry to be harsh, but I’ve heard the same story for nearly 12 months and nothings changed. It’s a subject that becoming close to another independence referendum from Scotland; (There genuinely seems to be huge apathy about it from both sides of the border). If the vote had gone the other way, we’d be hearing the same sort of thing the opposite way, so what’s done is done and lets just get on with it.
Now as I walked through the streets of Leicester the other day, something began to dawn on me. Recently I had been watching Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares US. I love that series. I love Gordon Ramsay, a British icon and expert in his field, walks into American restaurant businesses that are failing and show them how to give themselves a chance in an overcrowded market place. (He also did a UK version, but somehow people that really needed the help, really got the arse with him and starting crying to the National Newspapers when their incompetence was aired on TV.) How some of these businesses started is a complete mystery to me. How some them lasted as long as they did is another mystery. How some of the owners call themselves business people is also a mystery, but as we all know that when you become self employed there is no such things as a training course for ‘businesses that continue to evolve’.
I began to look around and notice something. Shops, restaurants, market stalls, and service industry buildings had more staff than customers. The staff appeared to be ‘busy doing nothing’. Staring out of windows on to the street in front. Staring at computer screens with the BBC News on them. Now please don’t get offended. Actually no…please be offended, because its shows you care. And this is what struck me. As a race we are a very visual bunch of organisms. We choose things by what they look like. (Remember dating? There’s proof if proof were needed we tend to find someone attractive by looks first…)
So as l looked around the City Centre I got an a feeling of…er…nothing. I actually think I felt sad. There were some amazing stores, cafe’s and restaurants that just existed. I wasn’t being given a single reason to go into them. I wasn’t being asked to part with a penny. I could be a millionaire walking around with cash burning in my pocket. But no-one knew I was there. No-one wanted my custom. No-one appeared to give a f##k!
Yes it was the start of the week. Yes there are less shoppers than at the weekend, but do successful businesses just wait until the weekend to attract new clients and customers? Do businesses who go on and grow in economic gloom wait for the gloom to bugger off and wait until people are awash with money? No. This is where Gordon Ramsay would pile in and start shouting at people who can’t see the obvious, who are in denial about the inevitable or should really be doing something else entirely.
In a world where we are told the Europeans hate us, because just over half of those that could be bothered to vote said, “Thanks very much, but we need some space darling…”; (And for those who voted stay, yes I know it’s upsetting but if you’d been watching the Eurovision Song Contest for the last 10 years, we’ve become less and less popular, whilst doing everything the EU wants. Australia get more votes than us and a) They’re not part of Europe and b) They descend from British criminals! (Allegedly!), how much more unpopular did you think we could get?), and in a media world where we are being whipped into an ‘us versus them’ mentality with us infighting at home and hearing so much negative stuff about everyone abroad, British businesses could be missing out on doing something amazing, because we’re too busy jumping on the same bandwagon as every other doom and gloom monger.
I’m sick of hearing about big business chiefs on breakfast news bulletins and in newspapers saying they may have to cut jobs, move into nice offices in France or saying that everything is going to cost more, whilst posting several million pounds worth of profit. What I really want to see and hear are British Businesses take matters into their own hands. I want these business bosses to grow a set of bollocks, stop whining about what ‘might’ be and start getting off their arses to forge REAL relationships with their customers and suppliers and make decisions that will benefit everyone. If you think that foreign suppliers will switch off the supply tap because you’re not in the EU anymore, you are believing way too much of the media hype. They run a business like you also. They have wages, taxes, investors and other hangers on to pay too.
I want to hear more British business positive stories. And please don’t tell me that ’negative news’ sells best. If we ignore it, the media outlets will soon get the bloody message. I want the hear more and more businesses saying , “Don’t worry chaps…we’re not going anywhere.” And then I’d love to hear businesses saying, “Well if big business ‘A’ is going to move offices, we’ll take over where they leave a gap in the market…” It can happen, if we stop the negative mindset.
And rather than worrying about what happens abroad, start worrying about what’s on your own doorstep with your own customers. We have ‘record employment’. And in that (perhaps unbelievable figure) are millions of British Businesses, Employers and employees with money to spend to help solve particular problems. Because that’s what a business is…a solution for someones problem. If someone needs a new supplier for something, go bloody look for it NOW!!! If someone isn’t sure where to go for lunch, get your staff out the front door encouraging people to come in with samples, tasters and events. If your pub is empty every lunch time, do something to get people in; customers don’t just magically appear. If there is a gap in the market because no-one in the UK is doing what you want them to do…start doing what they do. Why import from somewhere if it can be sourced here? Why spend years holding your breath and wait for the non-business minded UK Government officials, (I mean none of them really know how to negotiate anything with any relevant and successful business experience, otherwise the NHS wouldn’t be in the state it is right now!), to negotiate something that may or may not actually happen. All that will happen is that everyone is going to get each others backs up, we pay a stupid amount of money for nothing really, whilst the man on the street carries on as normal and ends up paying for it. The whole thing is a bloody nonsense, but we are where we are.
So my message is very simple. I’m not Gordon. I used to have blonde hair and yes, I can swear like a trouper, but I am like him when it comes to passion for successful businesses. There’s an election in a few weeks time and to be honest the result doesn’t matter much. We have no idea what the next couple of years look like. But if businesses and their owners are brave enough to buck the trend of doing business as normal, grow a set of bollocks and turn this Brexit nonsense and all the doom and gloom it’s become, into the opportunity it really can be, we may not be richer over night, but perhaps, just perhaps, Britain may well be a happier. more prosperous and more pleasant place to be in the unwritten future.