Jeremy’s speech to Welsh Social Businesses at the recent Wales social enterprise awards

Wales Co-operative Centre Welsh Business Awards 

by Jeremy Bowen Rees

Landsker Business Solutions this year sponsored the One to watch category at the Social Wales awards which took place at the Liberty Stadium about a month ago. Here is the text of Jeremy’s speech which focused on what social businesses need to do in what is becoming an increasingly uncertain marketplace.

“Nos Taith Ddu, Good evening,

Landsker is delighted to be sponsoring the One to watch category and this is the 4th year running we have supported these awards. This signifies how important we believe them to be in recognising the contribution that social businesses make to the Welsh economy and people of Wales.
I would like to take this opportunity to make a number of observations which I hope you will consider and which may influence how some social businesses think going forward.

Landsker has worked with over 140 Welsh social businesses in the last 10 years and has a clear understanding of the tension that often exists between the pursuit of social aims and the need to be financially sustainable.  Internally, Landsker calls social businesses Profit+ organisations as our emphasis is always to make you profitable, more independent and provide longevity first, which will then provide a good foundation to help you better pursuit your social aims. Our experience is that too many social businesses focus on social aims and dependence on things that cannot be influenced, such as external grant funding, which has sadly led to the demise of many social enterprises. The lower your influence the less control you have of your business.

Although working with social businesses forms a key part of our portfolio we work with many other funded programmes, such as Business Wales, especially Accelerated Growth, (of which a number of social businesses are receiving support), Superfast Broadband Cymru, Farming Connect, and do much tendering and private fee paying work. I have worked as a management consultant for nearly 20 years now in Wales and never have I seen such a dynamic marketplace that is filled with so much doubt, fear, uncertainty, but also promise and opportunity.

The unknown implications of Brexit, increasing unrest in the rest of Europe, the parody that was the American election, further UK public sector cutbacks and increasing concern towards massive Chinese debt will have consequences for all of our businesses, but we do not know what they will be. Although these awards celebrate Welsh social businesses, we are all part of the global economy; ignoring this fact and behaving introspectively will jeopardise your business.

The five key criteria set to evaluate the one to watch category, were that businesses needed to demonstrate a clear vision, were creative problem solvers, they had made an excellent impact, had high potential for future success and had no or a reducing dependence on grant income. I suggest these attributes are relevant to all finalists in this room and all other social and private sector businesses in Wales. If more effort is spent looking out and upwards to detect these market changes, you will be able to identify earlier those threats to avoid and the opportunities to pursue. This will not only help safeguard and grow your business, it will also provide competitive advantage by encouraging you to become more forward thinking and receptive to change;  more rapid market change will become the norm for all our businesses.”

 

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Jeremy Bowen Rees

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