In business? Banking on a Kodak moment? Waiting for lending to go from negative to positive? Well, don't hold your breath anytime soon. Why? Well, it's like this - banks are global these days, and exposed to way bigger risks than the business plan you're putting forward to them for £175,000 to help you scale your business. For sure, the risk may be small to you - and as I'm a 'glass half full' sort of chap, will help you deliver on your plan. But to the bank manager, who in turn reports into the dreaded Credit Committee, who in turn have to put their reputations on the line if it goes wrong, well - they're not really up for that right now. Because, they know that higher up the food chain, their bank is itself exposed to, for example, the Greek Deficit Reduction Plan, and if that doesn't work out, and a country defaults on its sovereign debt, then the bank is in trouble. Big trouble. So, until there is a consensus that confidence is returning to global integrated economies - ie - USA/Europe ARE in growth and buying once again from China, and the money is flowing around the world's financial arteries rather than being in a state of flux - then people will err on the side of caution.
So, if you can - try and take matters into your own hands. In 2009, I wanted to connect our shaving customers closer with our brand, and devised our 'Shaving Bond' - a SME bond which allowed people to save 6% on what they invested with us (up to £5,000) whilst shaving with our products. It connected them closer with our company (many are clamouring for us to do a Shaving Bond 2 when we repay the SB1 in August) and gave them an interaction with us without us involving a bank. Remember, what normally happens is that savers deposit money with banks, who then lend it to company's like ours, and we then repay the bank (making the bank money). So, we sort of cut out the 'middleman' and it's for sure a way forward to increase lending to many SME companies in the future. 'Beyond the Banks' it's called, and its gathering support - for more details, just Google 'SME Bonds' or 'Retail Bonds' and check out what other companies like Brewdog, Caxton FX, Hotel Chocolat & Ecotricity have done after we pioneered the way... Keep your eyes peeled for what we might do next!
If I was Rupert Murdoch, I'd be more than a little worried. Having closed The News of the World after all the revelations regarding hacking finally got exposed, he's now in the process of 'cleansing the system' whilst relaunching NOW as the Sun on Sunday. It's a good form of defense, going on the attack - but the question is, with the media/news scene evolving so rapidly, is whether the SoS will be exactly that, or a Success on Sunday. Newspapers rely on getting exclusive stories or content ahead of their competitors - and obviously hacking someone’s private phone allowed that - but now you can't, how will it regain its huge readership? Page 3, 4 & 5 girls? Fantastic attention grabbing headlines? Investigative journalism into 'Rip off Britain' a la Sunday Times Insight. Who knows. What I do know however, I'd be looking at what companies like Apple and Google are doing, who are rapidly converging content consumption into devices that are not powered by Caxton Content (ie paper). For example, will the SoS be available as a download via Whispernet onto the Kindle? Will it feature crowdsourced news from Twitter, or some other clever news origination & dissemination. Walking down the High Street in Lowestoft today, I was struck by how much a 'town centre' has failed to evolve with the new digital impetus for retail, and wondered what it would look like in 15 years time - so many shops were boarded up, or up for let, or had charity shops in them, or second rate retail brands - I almost thought it worthwhile completely demolishing the entire 'town centre' and maybe putting a 'retail park' in it's place, with the emphasis on PARK not retail (green trees, lakes, activities). May sound a bit crazy, but hey - who knows. Returning to why Mr. Murdoch might also be worried, it's no secret that Apple has $100Bn cash in its coffers, which is probably growing by $10Bn a quarter. Sky, owned by News Corp has succeeded because in the early 1990's, it was able to secure rights to broadcast the Premiership - now a global football franchise, especially powerful in Asia Pacific. I don't know when the franchise is coming up for renewal, but it would be peanuts for Apple to outbid News Corp and use ownership of this content to power rapid expansion not only of Apple as a whole (watch it on an iPhone, iPad etc.) but also would give Apple TV the edge it needs.
Impossible? I'm not so sure.
It was quite the crazy day a couple of weeks ago, in the space of 24 hours (a long time in football apparently, outgunning politics) Harry Redknapp was acquitted of Tax Evasion (innocent until proven guilty, remember) and Fabio Capello resigned over John Terry's loss of the England captaincy (also innocent until proven guilty, remember). There is a lot in the mix here - but Harry K bet he must have been dreaming when he woke up the next day, not in the dock, but in the running for the job I'm sure he's dreamt of all his life. He even has a bulldog, Rosie, as a pet for goodness' sakes - the headline writers must be drooling over his, I'm certain, future appointment - and perhaps England will go into battle with the right omens behind them. As for JT, he was our brand ambassador for King of Shaves from 2006-8 (in fact, he held the England captaincy then after Beckham resigned) and I met him on a number of occasions. He seemed a perfectly likeable chap, living in a bubble - for sure - after all, if you're on over £100,000 a week, and shuttle between your mansion, your training ground & Stamford Bridge - well - it's not an average day at work is it? When he was with us, I saw no sign of any racist attitudes and personally, I think we should wait for the outcome of his trial, before passing judgement - so easy these days via Facebook and Twitter. What I DO hope though is that in Euro 2008, we aren't subjected to the repeated 'Great Escape' music during games, and rather focus on winning a trophy we are eminently capable of winning, with the right confidence, attitude and leadership. It's British Bulldog time - Confidences is King - Grrrrrrrr!