The Small Business of Building the Future
Monday June 1, 2015
Forge the Future was a brainstorming session held by RIFT Accounting, the Business Bunker Radio Show and Jobs In Kent, with guests discussing how to predict and steer the future of small business.
On the 28th of May 2015, we gathered together 37 of the top mad thinkers, inventors and influencers in the small business nexus of Kent, with the simple objective of predicting, preparing for and constructing the future. From the beautiful, historically emblematic Westenhanger Castle (once home to King Canute), these hand-picked business pioneers grappled with the most important questions of today and tomorrow, working on ways to channel the tides of history into the future of small business.
Discussions were in-depth and lively, with RIFT's own mastermind Jane Ollis and the Business Bunker's Paul Andrews explaning how we would spend the day finding ways to carve out our own pieces of history, followed by a tour of the estate conducted by owner Sarah Poole. The formalities settled, we turned the participants loose on each other in a freestyle, sink-or-swim networking session calculated to get everyone engaged and active.
Throughout the day, we dispatched stealth-agents with recording gear into the maelstrom to document the discussions and report back on their findings. Those who returned safely told tales of hurricane-force brainstorms raging and intricately woven networks forming across the feasting hall. Be in no doubt - the future is coming and you will know it by the sound of thunder. Here are some of our key findings:
The Revolution is small, connected and it's already here.
Right now, right under our noses, a new Industrial Revolution is taking place. From the 3D printers in our factories to the phones in our pockets, technology is changing the ways we do business, communicate with each other and manage our lives. Faster moving and better able to innovate, small business is taking the initiative and outpacing the dinosaurs everywhere we look.
Natural selection is not the only path to evolution.
The 20th century was the time of the heavy predators. The future needs a new kind of survivor. Businesses are learning they can gain more from collaboration than from squabbling among themselves. Communities survive far harsher conditions than lone wolves.
The Future is people.
Skills shortages are a huge obstacle for businesses of all sizes, and if the government succeeds in creating 2 million more jobs then that problem's only going to get worse. Education has a major part to play, and business needs to start working with schools and colleges a lot more effectively.
Manufacturing isn't just the territory of Big Business.
Small business manufacturing has seen a tremendous rise to prominence, with smaller firms better able to innovate and incorporate new methods and technologies. The tendency toward overseas outsourcing is declining, and it's about more than just the cost.
Small business is good business.
Small businesses are collectively becoming a power player in the UK economy. With challenger banks and alternate funding options on the rise, smaller firms lo longer have to take the first "no" as their final answer. Furthermore, seeing beyond the "red in tooth and claw" outlook of the dinosaurs has given SMEs power and influence far beyond their size. They're here to stay, and they mean business.
Our thanks go out to Westenhanger Castle for hosting the event, and to brilliant and inspirational Sarah Poole for the tour.