Saffery Champness Chartered Accountants hosted their 3rd annual entrepreneurs’ dinner which took place at the Chewton Glen Hotel. They invited a group of eminent, ambitious and talented entrepreneurial clients to join them to discuss and debate the results of the newly published Saffery Champness Entrepreneurial Global Survey.
The survey is carried out across the firm’s Nexia International network, providing data from 22 countries around the world, allowing Safferys to see how the UK business environment and the attitude of UK entrepreneurs differs from the rest of the world. It looks at areas such as; business confidence, ability to achieve your business objectives and related opportunities, attitude to risk and ambitions for business expansion.
Survey results showed that UK entrepreneurs are more confident than those in other countries in achieving their business objectives over the next 12 months, despite the economic uncertainties created by Brexit. 59% of UK business owners were reported as being ‘quite confident’, compared to 47% in the rest of the world. As in previous years, the survey demonstrated that entrepreneurs are naturally optimistic and see opportunities, even in the most challenging of times.
Local investor and Dorset Business Angel, Don McQueen ably chaired the debate and discussions at the Chewton Glen Hotel. Conversations flowed and opinions varied at times around the table. The group endorsed the survey results around business confidence and acknowledged that there are good opportunities for creating growth and success in the current climate but with a number of challenges and uncertainties to manage. It was acknowledged that there is a buoyancy in the market for an entrepreneur to exploit, so long as it matches their attitude to risk.
Skills shortages was a common theme amongst the group, as well as achieving profit margins with pressure from national minimum wage increases. It was highlighted how cultural differences between a mixed work force of millennials and older employees can create management challenges to ensure that employee expectations are met and that employees are retained.
Taking a wider view with recruitment and staff retention
Recruitment is seeing businesses needing to take a much wider view and having to look much further afield to bridge the skills gap shortage, including outside of the UK. This brings further challenges and uncertainty, particularly with Brexit looming.
LifeTime – An unlimited holiday policy
Business responses to challenges faced were varied and some surprising solutions were revealed. For example, Duncan McWilliam, founder and Director of Outpost VFX told the room that he places great value on employees feeling trusted and supported to manage their own time within an organisation. He commented, “The creative sector asks a lot of its employees and they should have the right to ask for flexibility and trust in return. At Outpost employees’ relationships with the company are based upon trust, respect and balance. To introduce an unlimited holiday policy, branded ‘LifeTime’ was a natural step to reflect this.”
Duncan follows the mantra of “paying for your talent and not for your time”. He advised, “We introduced ‘LifeTime’ in January of 2019 and it has been extremely well received. I have also learnt along the way that our staff wish to belong within an organisation and that a business’s brand values are of great importance alongside salary when striving to inspire loyalty within the company. Notably, forward thinking companies such as Netflix, Linkedin and Virgin also offer unlimited holiday policies.”
This positive and flexible approach to staff was also mirrored by other guests in the room. One commented, “As a company we own various properties around the world and allow our staff to use these for free for their holidays. We are also looking at supporting our employees by potentially considering offering 9- day fortnights.”
Suzi Owen, co- founder of Jimmy’s Iced Coffee talked about the challenge of post Brexit uncertainty around suppliers putting on prohibitive costs for delivery if products are manufactured outside of the UK. As a result they are exploring raising capital to invest and considering the feasibility of constructing their own UK manufacturing plant to facilitate their continued growth.
Andy Lennox, founder of the Koh Thai and Zim Braai restaurant chain advised, “The hospitality industry is as tough as it has ever been with consumers demanding cheaper prices and at the same time expecting better quality food and dining experiences. The pressures on the margins are being driven by the minimum wage increases and higher rates on small businesses. On the other side though the right concept with good controls has it all to play for”
Saffery Partner Roger Wareham advised, “The evening was a great success, allowing a cross section of local entrepreneurs to discuss and share their recent successes, challenges and issues. Our guests found some reassurance that they are not alone with a number of issues which are providing the same challenge across all sectors. It was also extremely useful for us in providing an insight into the challenges being faced by our entrepreneurial clients and enabling us to design solutions in proactively supporting them.”
Event host Don McQueen commented, “I thoroughly enjoyed the evening. It was an incredibly inspiring group of individuals from across a diverse mix of sectors but all facing similar issues and challenges. It was good discussing and disecting the results of the survey and listening to like minded individuals with a genuine passion for growing their businesses and achieving success.”
About Saffery Champness LLP
Saffery Champness LLP is the 12th largest firm of chartered accountants in the UK (by fee income), providing specialist advice to a wide range of professional practices, entrepreneurs, private clients individuals, and not-for-profit organisations.
For 160 years, the firm’s success has been founded upon providing clients with a genuinely partner-led service, and working with them to create bespoke solutions that help them to achieve their personal and business objectives.Saffery Champness has almost 70 partners and nearly 600 staff in the UK, across nine offices, plus a presence in Guernsey, Geneva and Zurich, with 140 directors and staff based outside the UK.Saffery Champness is also a member of the Nexia International network (Nexia).
Nexia is a leading, global network of independent accounting and consulting firms, spanning over 120 countries.Visit www.saffery.com for more information or see Twitter: @Safferys