Graeme Smith CEO Jersey Business
Business tend to spend most of their time planning, building, reporting and then promoting all the positive business outcomes that are achieved. By nature, business leaders are very task and results driven, always trying to simplify outputs into ‘bottom line profit growth’. When we hit our ‘numbers’ we celebrate, when we don’t, we review where we went wrong and look to change to get back on track.
Look at any business’s annual report and almost the entire focus will be on results, along with some great team and product photos to try and bring it all to life. But what about a focus on investment? This is surely equally important as it will start to explain where the business is looking to grow in the future.
As you would expect at Jersey Business we have our own set of performance measures, focussed primarily on productivity growth across all sectors of the Jersey economy. 2019 was a really good year for us. We were able to increase both the direct support we gave to clients through our dedicated business advisers and bespoke support programmes as well as indirect support through our revamped website and learning events.
But for this 2019 review, I want to talk about what investments we have made which are focussed on developing productivity growth in future years. It was Robert Louis Stevenson who said ‘Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant’.
Following this theme, we have worked with Government and the agricultural industry for a number of years to help bring new innovation to our vital rural sector. A great example of this is our client Jersey Hemp, who have moved from start-up through to product delivery and, with a major financial investment, they are now looking to develop a global supply of high value cannabis oil products.
With additional support from our Minister Lyndon Farnham, Jersey is starting to be seen as a great location for innovative high value crops such as medicinal cannabis. This is real investment from Government, Jersey Business and the private sector which will, we believe, build a strong new strand to our economy.
‘We’re all getting busier and busier, but is it all good?’ was the question I posed in my 2018 review.
We see many Jersey businesses operating flat out with high levels of staff vacancies. To help overcome some of the problems this poses, we have invested in developing a programme focused on business efficiency which looks at how operational processes can be improved.
Asking time poor business leaders to take time out to analyse, in real detail, operational processes across one part of their business was not an easy task, but our third cohort has just finished with organisations from a very wide range of sectors taking part. In each case, the businesses saw immediate improvements which they could implement to save costs, improve profits and release some of the staff pressures.
Most importantly though, participating businesses are now looking to continue with this programme across other areas of their operations. Real investment by us and our clients which will start to deliver substantial future benefits.
These are just two examples of investments we have made that are starting to bear fruit and will really start deliver over the next few years.
But of course, we are not complacent and continue to identify new ways to support business and new ways to invest.
During 2019 we worked with Government’s External Relations team to tap into their fantastic network of global government relationships with key players in France, India and the US. This has allowed us to establish contacts that are supporting early stage commercial opportunities in these regions and we hope to see these ‘investments’ deliver increasing trading activity during 2020 and beyond.
The early success we have seen in these programmes is very rewarding and shows that we are on the right track to create a coordinated programme of support for Jersey businesses to enhance their productivity, profitability and growth.
So, in summary 2019 was a good year of numbers, but more importantly a year of real investment in the future. And, as we move into the festive period the Jersey Business team and I wish you all a very happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.