Several Tees business leaders have revealed details of the changes and challenges for their firms as the Entrepreneurs’ Forum launches its Forward initiative to encourage local businesses to look towards the future with confidence.
The forum has been carefully listening to the views of its members and partners over the past six weeks to understand how they will respond to what has been described as the ‘new normal’.
As a result, the forum is now embarking upon a programme of events to share the combined expertise and experience of its members and partners to focus firmly on the future.
Jonathan Lamb, the forum’s chief executive, believes the resource – together with access to additional mentoring and professional advice – will allow its members across the North-East to prepare for the opportunities that will arise as the country and the world begins to emerge from lockdown.
Aman Chahal, of Stockton-based roofing design company TaperedPlus, said: “We aim to work smarter and utilise technology such as Microsoft Teams. We’ve had internal and external use of Teams, and both have worked exceptionally well.”
Paul Drake, operations director of Sapere Software, also based in Stockton, added: “We’re quite positive about the future because the pandemic has helped speed up the adoption of digital transformation projects. In the North East we have the skills, knowledge and experience to help fellow business colleagues thrive and compete on the world stage.”
Pete Lillie, co-founder of Middlesbrough-based Presca Teamwear, said: “The future is about staying true to the ‘Why?’ of the business – remembering why we love what we do and why it’s important to us.
“It’s also about simplicity: giving a clear message to our clients about the benefits of our product set and making sure our staff have a clear message and focus over the next 12 months. We also want to ensure that, in the post-Covid world our products are still relevant and applicable to the people who use them.”
The programme planned by the forum will initially continue with online events which will evolve into physical events as restrictions are eased. They will focus on a range of subjects which will help its members lay the foundations now for sustained growth in the future.
Jonathan Lamb added: “For the past six weeks many businesses have been focused on dealing with the immediate challenges created by the lockdown, such as changing working practices, staffing and finance.
“However, now is the time to look to the future and the opportunities it will bring. While supporting our members to overcome the current challenges of Covid-19 is still our priority, our Forward programme shines a light on the optimism and positivity of our region’s business owners who are already making long term plans for business growth and prosperity.
“Many entrepreneurs have had to revaluate how their business works and we must now all work together, proactively, to develop successful long-term strategies and ensure entrepreneurs continue to drive the North-East economy forward.”
The Entrepreneurs’ Forum was founded in 2002 by the North-East’s leading entrepreneurs to provide inspiration and a helping hand to the region’s business owners. It now has more than 300 individual member companies from across the region, all part of a unique cross-sector peer group of like-minded people who share ideas, knowledge and connections. The combined turnover of the members is in excess of £2.3 billion per annum and these businesses employ more than 23,000 people.