PROSPER MAGAZINE: DIGITAL EDITION
As we enter Q4 business leaders agonise over the right shape and size for their business.
We find ourselves in Q4 of this difficult year, which starts to bring some long-term perspective - both backward and forward-looking with regions across the country finding themselves with rising levels of Coronavirus, many have faced local lockdowns, and now as Prosper is published, the whole country will enter a second national lockdown following this weekend’s announcement.
Early October kicked off a business quarter when companies were beginning to get a clearer view of how 2020 will end up in terms of revenues and profitability. And when bosses are drawing up forecasts for the much-longed-for 2021.
The Government, and the scientists, haven’t held back in telling us all that these six months until the end of March – effectively ‘the winter months’ – will be a hard slog. That’s the period over which increasing social restrictions are likely to endure. It’s a half-year when we will discover how well the authorities, particularly the health service, cope with the second wave of this pandemic.
So, businesses are planning for a difficult six months ahead – but also for 2021, when things may well begin to improve significantly.
It’s not an easy calculation is it?
It’s certainly hard to sound terrifically upbeat going into this winter – particularly with Christmas looking decidedly subdued, in fact almost unrecognisable for many - and we really don’t know whether spring is going to bring genuine cheer or not.
Since I last wrote, the government has introduced its three-tier system for Covid infection levels, Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled his Job Support Scheme (JSS), which was due to replace the Furlough scheme from the end of October, but this has now been extended until the end of November and just last week he announced three extra support measures for firms in areas facing Tier 2 restrictions. And of course this weekend we are told by the Prime Minister that the country will enter a second national lockdown from Thursday of this week.
Some businesses have already taken the decisions on major redundancy programmes and figures out in mid-October show a worrying rise in unemployment figures, as many had predicted.
The challenge then – as we stand on the cusp of the darker, colder half of the year – is to steer businesses through this tricky period and be in decent shape for brighter general economic times ahead.
In this edition of Prosper we look ahead as the Black Country rebuilds from the coronavirus and explore what the future looks like for transport, infrastructure, digital innovation, connectivity and green innovation.
We announce the shortlist for next month’s Black Country Business Heroes Awards, introduce you to international trade advisors from across Europe, talk teaching, training and tattoos in the workplace and ask why are women over a certain age feel invisible in the workplace.
There’s news, views and interviews from Chamber members and the West Midlands Mayor, updates on forthcoming events and we look at what extra support is available for the region’s businesses as they face more uncertainty over Brexit.
PR & Communications Officer
Black Country Chamber of Commerce