If I could meet up with myself as I was in December 2019, I am not sure how I would handle the meeting.
The conversation would go something like: “Take a seat, I need to have a word about next year. You’ve been at the heart of business and commerce for several years, witnessing upturns and downturns and seen the effect political decisions can have on the economy, but you have never seen anything like what is just around the corner.”
For years we have lived under the threat of a viral pandemic which had the potential to stretch health facilities to breaking point, disrupt daily life and widespread and long-lasting damage to the world economy. After false dawns, such as SARS and MERS, did we think it could really happen?
When it finally did, it caught us out big style. Months after we knew about the spread of Covid19 in Asia, and its subsequent migration to Europe, we carried on going to pubs, restaurants, cafes, cinemas, theatres, and sporting events and were told if we washed our hands whilst singing ‘Happy Birthday’ we would be alright.
Between then and now there has been nothing short of a revolution in the pattern of day-to-day life the way we behave and in the way we work.
The pandemic has brought on a heightened appreciation of what a fantastic and crucial job many people do to make sure that we are kept healthy, fed and supplied with essential goods and services.
Business has been amazing in the way it has stepped forward to help out and there are countless examples such as manufacturers switching production to make ventilators, manufacture PPE and setting up networks to supply meals and food to those in most need.
Above all, after the initial ‘rabbit caught in the headlights moment’ we’ve all just got on with it and done what we needed to do.
Thankfully, the job retention scheme and financial help from the government was rapid and, if not totally universal, it kept many businesses trading who could have disappeared.
Many businesses, especially leisure and hospitality continue to bear the brunt of the pandemic are suffering and may do for some time as infection rates continue to rage. We may have a vaccine but there are a few months yet until immunisation starts to make a positive difference to our daily lives.
I would like to think that at the Chambers we have done everything we can to help business through advice, information, connections and support in many ways.
Next year we will deliver more of the same with an additional focus on creating new employment opportunities through the Kickstart scheme for young people up to 25 and through our start up schemes for new entrepreneurs.
Some business will fail through no fault of their own, but the talent that runs that business or works for the business is still there and we want to harness this talent, re-skill if necessary, advise, empower, and offer continuing support to the next generation of entrepreneurs who will power our post-Covid economy forwards.
So, I would conclude the conversation with myself by saying: “If anything like 2020 happens again, we have proved that we have what it takes to get through it. The spirit of cooperation and the feeling that we are all in this together, and therefore we must all come out of this together, has never been stronger.
“You can rest assured that the Chambers team was there for business right from the start of lockdown. You have a dedicated, brilliant and adaptable team of people who proved their worth and were prepared to go the extra mile to help business get through this.”
Merry Christmas and here’s to a positive and prosperous 2021.
If you want to talk to us about any business issues, you can call our switchboard on 01782 202222 or call the Stoke and Staffs Growth Hub Helpline on 0300 111 8002 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org