A ‘tsunami of change’ threatens to wash away local businesses

HHDBA Chair Maureen Scholefield
HHDBA Chair Maureen Scholefield

Haywards Heath companies could go under if they don’t manage the changes that will inevitably affect their businesses.

That’s the warning from the chair of the Haywards Heath and District Business Association (HHDBA).

Maureen Scholefield explained that factors driving change are many but include: technological progress; changing market conditions, such as supplier price increases, stiffer competition and demand for new services, and; legislation, such as age discrimination and the end of the default retirement age.

“These are just the tip of the iceberg,” said Maureen. “Tomorrow’s workplace will be barely recognisable.

“Being ahead of the game and making adjustments to your business before change is forced upon you will bring competitive advantages.

“However, business owners who are not forward looking or flexible and willing to adapt to change will almost certainly suffer, possibly submerge.”

Maureen believes that technology will continue to develop in ways that are difficult to imagine.

“For example,” she said, “all businesses need to be alert to cybercrime and contingency planning.”

She went on to point out that a recent McKinsey report states that the top 25 percent of businesses have a 50-50 chance of surviving and riding the waves of change.

The way people work is also changing. Government figures for the last quarter of 2013 show an increase in self-employment. Some 4.3 million are officially self-employed, an increase of 573,000, or 15 percent, since the recession of 2008-09.

Over 60 percent of this rise has taken place from around the middle of 2011.

Maureen believes that agile thinking will be critical in all aspects of business, from the speed of response to the change of direction. “This will favour the smaller organisations that are more likely to be nimble and fleet of foot,” she said. “Clever marketing that takes advantage of social media will be vital.”

Maureen runs a successful business in Haywards Heath, established over 25 years ago. She has a lot of experience and is so aware of the issues facing businesses that the HHDBA is running a conference called the Future of Business at the Clair Hall, Haywards Heath on 7 March.

“The Future of Business will help to focus on key issues such as growing the business, strategic planning, new ideas for sales and marketing and how to harness the power of your people,” said Maureen

“The conference will tackle issues that will help individual businesses plan and grow in a realistic and sustainable way