On a dark and stormy Tuesday morning, with tales of economic melt down on R4, I wasn’t sure if anyone would turn up to Open Coffee.
I shouldn’t have worried, Bristolians are made of stern stuff. We even had a friendly bank manager type along to see what the excitement was about.
In addition to Andy, we had Peter Weeks from Business Link and two entrepreneurs Dave Cropley and Chris Keegan from newly formed evans & finch (holding website). Joel Hughes was back hoping to show his new social canvassing app, along with Sam, Nigel, Craig, Tom, Melissa, Mark, Janice, and apologies to anyone I’ve missed!
A fresh pot of finest ground coffee and some gluten-free chocolate cake kept everyone talking and mixing until after I had to leave.
From the conversations I flitted between there was a common thread that, while the impending financial apocalypse will hit, for most businesses it’s not here yet. The exception, as Andy admitted, is for those trying to raise or extend bank finance. Survival planning was largely around three themes that also came up at a Bristol Enterprise Network event a couple weeks back (Growth Opportunities in a Recession).
- watch the cash flow (and reduce it everywhere)
- provide an excellent customer experience (keeping existing customers is easier than finding new ones)
These last two in particular are being exemplified by 3 Bristol companies. Mark and Tom at The Web People are using their new SWiM service-as-a-service management software to provide excellent customer experience and innovating by licensing it to other web development and management companies. Nigel at Katugas Research Services is providing excellent service through analysis reports and multi-lingual support, and innovating through budgeting approaches that help both their client’s and their own cash flow. Dave and Chris at evans & finch are also planning both consolidation of cash flow through longer term client relationships and a new service that is still under wraps.
It may be grim out there, and things will probably get worse before they get better, but there are still some great business opportunities out there.