Welcome to the Jungle
How world financial catastrophe has left business leaders uncaged in the wild – and why they are thriving!
It strikes me that the near chaos and seemingly continual lurch from one financial, economic or political crisis to another over the last 3 years, has had one positive effect!
Psychologically it has made many of our best business leaders more resolute, more relaxed, more confident.
This is in stark contrast to the situation we found ourselves in three years ago.
The year of conversations I had following Lehman had a markedly different tone to those I have had over the last few months.
Then, there existed a palpable anxiety. Fear, uncertainty, the unknown, worked to set in motion, a pendulum like decision making mentality - too fast and too many or too slow and too few.
But the best ones learnt quickly, and now a good proportion of our business leaders and entrepreneurs are in a different place.
Having got up pretty much every morning to a barrage of bad news for the last three years, dealt with telling trading conditions, and faced up to making very tough decisions in a very tough world, many of our business leaders and entrepreneurs have had no option but learn and adapt to the trading conditions and uncertainty. And it seems the evidence bears this out.
Last quarter, we conducted a survey among 300 businesses across Europe - ranging from SMEs to major corporates – the sample made up of the continent’s leading businesses which have previously been recognised by the European Business Awards.
Four out of five businesses plan to enter at least one new market in the next 12 months, while only 16% do not plan on pursuing any new market opportunities.
A further sign that European companies are looking for genuine growth rather than savings is that 77% say that their primary motive for expanding their business abroad is potential market size, rather than low labour or taxation costs.
It illustrates that the leaders of these businesses are much more comfortable operating in the present environment and are making positive decisions to find growth and opportunity.
So I guess the continuous stream of bad news it is a bit like a form of phobia treatment, the more you are exposed to your fears and nightmares the more you become desensitised to them and adapt your behaviour.
Admittedly our work is focussed on the most successful companies in Europe, so the picture might be slightly skewed. But where our best might be setting the pace and the direction, the rest will be following their lead.
Who knows what will happen to the Euro, sovereign debts, etc, but it is good to know that our business leaders and entrepreneurs are in a much better place mentally to deal with whatever comes.