I have been visiting a number of the RedBalloon experience suppliers (many of whom are small enterprises) – meeting with them firsthand to garner a good understanding of how business is tracking and what is going on in their businesses.
I’ve discovered unanimously that they are all of one mind, that is, as times look increasingly uncertain, more than ever businesses need to reinforce the great relationships that they have. Whether that is with employees, customers, distributors, suppliers or other key stakeholders.
They are telling me that “Now is very much a time for consolidation, for building on what is great and not becoming distracted – to do what they do best”. (author Jim Collins asked the question in ‘Good to Great’ – ‘What are you the best in the world at?’ To know this is to have focus.
There is opportunity in a downturn, but it is also a time to grow from one’s strengths.
If seven of Australia’s top 10 trading partners are in ‘recession’ then perhaps there might be greater return on effort in doing business domestically.
Someone once said to me when talking about Australia’s exports to China: “Do you really think that China will say ‘Ooh, let’s look after Australia’s interests they are such lovely people’, China will look after China first”. Perhaps we could do the same.
We play on a global stage; the world has never been so small and will increasingly get smaller. But that does not mean we ignore the communities that we are a part of.
As I visit my suppliers they say “the best thing RedBalloon can do for us is keep sending us business”, then in turn they will keep employing, growing, and supporting other businesses.
I remember years ago there was a ‘buy Australia’ policy. I don’t suggest that we return to that. Australian businesses must be internationally competitive – and best of class. However, I also work with some major Australian (and New Zealand) companies and it is just as important for major organisations to buy Australian – and support local innovation.
Here’s the thing, stop importing ‘stuff’ which produces clutter on the planet anyway. I give the example; if you give someone a ‘vase’… manufactured overseas, transported to Australia (at what carbon cost to the planet?) – it sits and gathers dust until it finally becomes landfill. Instead buy something Australian – give someone something that Australia is truly great at, such as, design, activities, entertainment, gourmet food… there is lots to discover – if we make the effort to do so.
If an Australian company is thinking of importing plastic eskies from China as Christmas gifts for its staff – stop, and think about the impact to Australia (and the environment) and how such an investment could better be spent supporting Australia.(With the fluctuations in currency we’ve even found printing in Australia is now relatively a whole lot cheaper).
Have fun exploring what we are best in the world at… in fact, add a comment below on what you Australia (or New Zealand) are the world’s best at.
Naomi is the 2008 National Telstra Women’s Business Award winner for Innovation. Naomi was also a finalist for the Australian HR Awards and a finalist for the BRW Most Admired Business Owner Award in 2008. Also in 2008 RedBalloon achieved a 97% Hewitt employee engagement score. One of Australia’s outstanding female entrepreneurs, Naomi regularly entertains as a professional speaker inspiring middle to high-level leaders on employer branding, engagement and reward and recognition. Naomi writes a blog and has written a book sharing the lessons from her first five years.