Launching Forward

Posted on the 11 May 2020

Launching Forward

The Entrepreneurs’ Forum today (Monday, 11 May) launches its Forward initiative to encourage North East 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 an ambitious 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 this valuable 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.

John Burns, owner of Gateshead-based Diamond Group, which provides copiers, telecoms and IT support, said: “Forward to me means rebuilding the parts of the business that have been affected, maintaining and improving our excellent service levels and making it safer for our clients and staff. The future is about developing much closer relationships with our clients.”

Russell Croisdale Managing Director of Encore Envelopes, which operates sites at Washington and Peterlee, said it will continue to make a significant investment in additional equipment during the second half of the year to meet a growing demand from existing clients and potential new sales.

He added: “For our envelope business, after six months of significant research and development we have two new lines which we’re launching onto the marketplace to generate additional volumes into the market.”

Ian Gilthorpe, of Newcastle-based Square One Law, said: “Looking forward for me means working ever closer with our clients as we all look to understand the opportunities and challenges of a post-Covid-19 era.”

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.”

Vikki Jackson-Smith, managing director of Hartlepool-based J&B Recycling, said: “For us, moving forward means delivering the highest standards through continuous development of both our staff and our processes, and our focus is to find innovative solutions to improve efficiency and to continue with our growth to provide sustainable employment in the North East.”

Nicky Jolley, founder and managing director of Darlington-based HR specialists HR2day, said: Our intention is to work even closer and be more transformational with the companies we work with rather than transactional. We look to get the best out of people to add the best value.”

Colin Hewitt, head of the company commercial team at Newcastle-based law firm Ward Hadaway, said: “Moving forward means understanding our clients’ needs and objectives and making sure we are in the best position and have the right skills to help them to succeed. Our priority is to support our clients through these challenging times and being ready and able to help them take advantage of the opportunities that arise as the economy recovers.”

Dean Benson, founder and CEO of Stockton-based eCommerce specialists Visualsoft, said: “In general, the future is about innovation, buying online and supporting the business community.”

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.”