The Age of Immediacy20th July 2017
It’s been an amazing couple of weeks. As a couple of eagle-eyed readers who know me personally noted after my last email, I’ve just returned from holiday.
My last decent break was about 10 years ago, when I went with the family for 3½ weeks to visit friends in Australia. This time, my wife Thelma and I conducted a ‘Great North Tour’ right here in England. It was closer to home, but just as rewarding.
Highlights included two visits to Beamish, an open-air recreation of a real, working Victorian town, complete with shops, houses and colliery, and a visit to Lindisfarne, also known as the ‘Holy Island’. That’s a place just steeped in ancient wisdoms, with the ruins of a monastery that dates back 1,400 years. My wife, who’s into alternative healing and spirituality, felt a real connection.
And I felt a real connection when we ended our tour visiting Talyllyn Railway in Wales, where I’m the railway CFO. For a committed railway buff like me that was one of the holiday’s biggest highlights!
It’s been very relaxing and a complete change of pace from my normal, hectic daily routine, running a thriving business.
What struck us again and again during this very historically-themed holiday is just how busy we all are compared to the relatively sedate pace of life experienced by most people historically.
I’m not just talking about the monks at Holy Island, but even the Victorians of Beamish. They may have thought that their life was unbelievably fast-paced following the Industrial Revolution, but compared to 2017, it really wasn’t. News could still take time to travel. It could still take days to get hold of someone. Most business was probably still conducted quite locally.
Even the 1980s were slow compared to today, without the Internet, mobile phones and 24-hour cable news.
This is the age of immediacy, and for business owners, this means that we are under an unprecedented amount of pressure to be on-the-ball.
Market conditions can change at the blink of an eye. Your company’s financial picture, your customers and your suppliers can all change radically without much warning. It is taken for granted that we are always available, answering messages immediately and taking important decisions at short notice (which explains why so many business owners find it difficult to take a real holiday…).
This means that we can’t run our businesses in the laissez-faire manner business owners might have been able to get away with several decades ago. We must be far more agile.
We need the right information at our fingertips. For example, in the past it might have been enough to have annual accounts once a year, but now our financial information has to be almost continuously updated. We need to know our exact financial position at all times.
We need to have the right systems in place so we can avoid threats and take advantage of opportunities when they appear out of the blue. It will be much more difficult to change tack if the exchange rate suddenly changes… or buy a competitor quickly… if you’re not sure what your costs really are, what your financial position really is, or what your long-term strategy is.
We need to build businesses that take strategic, well-thought decisions – because no one has time for mistakes any more.
That is exactly what we create for our clients by giving them top-notch financial management. With clear financial information and great financial planning, it becomes much easier to steer your company through these demanding times.
So if you feel that your financial management is holding you back then let’s chat.
It might take me a little longer than usual to get back to you as I'm just back from holiday - but let's face it, you'll still hear back from me within an hour or two. All par for the course in our fast-moving world...