Column by Theo Paphitis
Running a small business is hard graft and not for the faint-hearted, but that being said, the last few years will have tested even the hardiest of entrepreneurs.
Whether it be the consequence of instabilities caused by the conflict in Europe or as a result of the cost-of-living crisis, it’s fair to say that businesses – big and small – have been through the wringer, and the relentless barrage of bad news has left many in a permanent state of anticipation, wondering not if, but when the other shoe is going to drop.
In times of macroeconomic instability, there are often subtle tremors lurking beneath the surface – and in this instance, as if torrid news were a sculptor, piece by piece, it’s been gradually chipping away at confidence levels. In the case of SMEs, it’s been stopping them from innovating, taking calculated risks and importantly, thinking big!
Entrepreneurship runs deep through the veins of our economy, and SMEs play a pivotal part in that; employing over 16.4 million people in the UK and contributing an impressive total turnover of £2.1 trillion, it’s clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are the lifeblood of our economy.
In spite of this, owing to the prevailing macroeconomic situation, they’re becoming increasingly less likely to want to poke their heads above the parapet – and who can blame them?
In turbulent and uncertain times, it can be exceedingly easy to think about throwing in the towel – and truth be told, I’m sure it’s a thought many of us have pondered before. Well, to quote the ancient philosopher, Rocky Balboa, ‘it ain’t over till it’s over.’
No matter how tempting those thoughts may be, I urge you not to capitulate to them. Good things don’t come easy so imagine the feeling when through all the blood, sweat and tears you get through those periods of hot water.
Turning your dream into a reality is not an easy journey, and is one often fraught with difficulties. But, let’s face it, rarely is there going to be a time when absolutely everything in the world is going swimmingly, so rather than spend your time worrying about things that are out of your control, why not spend your time focusing on the things you can?
I’m a fervent believer that in times of chaos, there lies opportunity, and I think we can all agree when I say that we’re hardly short of chaos at the moment. Take Covid as an example; despite the myriad of issues it wreaked upon us, it catalysed the creation of 726,000 new businesses in 2020, compared to just over 636,000 in 2019 – truly remarkable figures and a testament to the fact that there can be, and often are, glimmers of opportunity sprinkled in amidst the chaos. Don’t forget that.
There will be moments when the dark days seem never-ending, but just remember that by weathering them you’ll have had to do things you’d have never thought possible before – imagine what you’ll be able to do once the pressure eases off a bit!
So to all those wondering about whether to take a risk or try something new – do your homework and once you’re ready, get stuck right in! We are a great nation of entrepreneurs, and in times of chaos we pivot, adapt and think BIG!
Theo Paphitis – Small Business Sunday #SBS
If you’re a small business then check out Theo’s free-to-enter #SBS Small Business Sunday competition which runs every Sunday between 5 – 7.30pm on X and Instagram – a free boost for small businesses with ambitions to grow and a chance to join one of the UK’s small business communities. Further information is here: theopaphitissbs.com