Business leaders across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent have revealed their secrets to success at a virtual conference which provided a rallying call to businesses to ‘grasp the opportunities of the future.’
Experts from a host of sectors were invited to share their pearls of wisdom at the Vision 20 conference hosted by Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (SSLEP) earlier this week.
The two-day event – which featured live keynote interviews, Q&As and interactive sessions – aimed to inspire and connect businesses and stakeholders from across the county.
Among the participants at this year’s conference was Cris Cohen, who runs gastronomy business Feasted, who shared his words of advice for small businesses.
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He said: “It’s about embracing change and looking for those ideas that can push that change forward, that’s really, really key. Living outside your comfort zone is a massive thing too.
“I’m not an expert, there’s people out there who know far more about business than I do, but I live the challenges and just go for it.
“It’s also about having people around you who you can be really honest with and who you can share your ideas with. It’s really important to surround yourself with good people.”
He added: “For businesses who are struggling, look to diversify, have a clear message, and help people because through doing that, good things will happen. It’s that simple.”
Sharing her words of wisdom, Carol Shanahan OBE – Port Vale owner and founder of Synectics Solutions and the Hubb Foundation – said: “On the first day that football was suspended and we knew we were going to go into lockdown, I said to my leadership team across all four organisations ‘how do you want history to write us? when you’re talking at a dinner party in a few years time and are asked what did you do during lockdown and covid, what do you want to say?’
“And without hesitation or exception they all said they wanted to use this time to make a difference.
“So my advice to businesses would be to use this time. Adapt to it, learn from it, grow from it and view it as a gift really.
“It is hard but there’s a lot that we can learn; it’s given us an opportunity to become something that we otherwise wouldn’t have become, in a very positive way.”
Caroline Brown, managing director at Keele-based business consultancy Caja Ltd, added: “Success can be gained from working together as a community of SMEs, so as much as I think that 2021 is going to be challenging again, I do think it’s going to bring huge opportunities, both for us and hopefully all SME businesses across Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire.”
Concluding the event, LEP chairman Alun Rogers said: “If you’re a business person or you’re thinking about getting into business, my key message is: stay positive, be bold, be brave and you really can achieve something.
“We heard from lots of speakers who have been able to do that and I hope we’ve been able to inspire you and motivate you. It’s important to the success of this area that it’s delivered by people who want to achieve something.”