Paul Hargreaves is the chief executive of Cotswold Fayre a specialist fine food wholesaler.

“New Year, new you?”

It would be a cliché to roll out a load of stuff on New Year’s resolutions: how you are going to do better this year? What you are going to do differently? etc. And I have probably done that before, and I am sure many of you do this naturally at the start of a year and after the madness of Christmas. However, some of this can be ‘flogging a dead horse’. Trying to do something better in an area of your life or business that simply is not working is a waste of time. If you keep notes on what you were planning or thinking at the same time last year, have a look at them now. Are any of them similar? Then maybe it is time to be more honest with yourselves?

I would encourage you to make some bold decisions in 2018 - and take a good honest look at your business. Some things you were doing within your business five years ago that were working brilliantly simply do not any longer. Be honest with yourselves otherwise you may still be doing it in another five years’ time. The key to success in business is to evolve and be open to change constantly, and in these years of rapid change that probably means changing your spots more often than a few years ago. Did you know that the company Nokia started out in 1865 as a paper mill factory? That they became the leading mobile phone manufacturer over 100 years later after some transformation. There were, of course, several steps along the way. Clearly the various leaders of Nokia throughout many generations were open to changing and transforming – and some! Sadly, their market share plummeted due to the launch of the iPhone 3, and also because they chose an operating system for their smartphones that was not Android.

At Cotswold Fayre we changed some fundamental aspects of our business model in 2016. It was a year later exactly that we started to see the fruit of those changes. Was I concerned that we had done the right thing over that intervening year? Well, most of the time, no, but on bad days, yes, but in my gut, I knew we had done the right things to set us on a good growth curve again. And that curve is still increasing every month.

What are the “paper mill” elements of your business or way of working that you need to leave behind. Maybe you just need to take the plunge and either stop completely doing what you are doing or hand it over to someone else to carry the baton. I just have this sense that 2018 should be a year of bold decisions for some of us within this industry. There could be some massive changes afoot in 2018 – make sure your business is in a place to flow with the winds of change rather than be battered by the Atlantic storms.


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