I know many of us may be of the view that we’re glad to see that back of the 2020/21 financial year.
However, while it has been a challenging year, we have learned a huge amount about ourselves and how we react to unprecedented circumstances. Indeed, many of our responses will feature in our daily lives in the future - both on a personal and business level.
Between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021, our country and our economy have had a tumultuous 12 months that have challenged us in ways we never could have predicted.
At Duncan & Toplis, our team members have worked extremely hard, working under exceptional circumstances to support companies and individuals across our community. Seeing companies they’ve helped to not only survive the year, but to emerge stronger is a real testament to the creativity, dedication and willpower of business leaders, workers and all of those who support them.
It is a deeply upsetting economic disaster that so many companies across the country have had to close for good, and that so many jobs have been lost: According to the latest ONS figures, there are 693,000 fewer people in work than there were last year, and 20% of workers were still furloughed ahead of the latest easing of restrictions. Hopefully, these numbers will quickly reduce as we recover, but, from my work alongside business leaders over 35 years, I know that every single lost or furloughed job is a heartbreaking decision.
For businesses though, there is some truth in the old adage that ‘whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’; while times have been tough for everyone, there are positive outcomes and there have been lessons learned which will help businesses going forward.
Whether it’s recognising the importance of income diversification, a stronger embrace of online sales, greater operational efficiency, closer relationships between colleagues, customers, suppliers and partners, clearer marketing and communications, or a more resilient business model, we’ve all learned so much from the circumstances we’ve endured.
Throughout the last year, we’ve been forced to think more critically of our own businesses; questioning some of the old behaviours and habits which have gone unchallenged for years. With the advantages and drawbacks of remote working, the very nature and purpose of a workplace - something which many thought was constant and unchangeable - has been challenged like never before. In responding to a government mandate, companies found new ways to improve productivity, nurture better working practices and achieve greater flexibility to support a wider range of workers which they’ll undoubtedly take with them when long into the future.
One of the most inspiring things I’ve seen during this pandemic is the example set by businesses rising to the challenges they’ve faced. Even traditional businesses which have depended on face-to-face interaction have seized the opportunity to try something new, whether it’s a retailer launching a new online store or a restaurant starting a new takeaway or delivery service. Businesses have found entirely new ways of operating and this has catapulted them into whole new adventures, either as temporary measures for survival, or permanent changes which have proved their value for good.
As well as the pandemic, our country has fundamentally changed its position in the world; leaving the European Union and seeking out new trading relationships with countries across the globe. While this has brought delays, complications and problems for businesses which trade overseas, we’re working hard to ensure that every advantage and opportunity can be seized, helping companies to think globally and explore new horizons through our new international business services gateway, Kreston Duncan & Toplis.
For more than 95 years, Duncan & Toplis has helped businesses and individuals through crises including wars, depressions, floods, trade disruptions and financial crashes. Undoubtedly, the pandemic ranks among the worst of these, but, just as we have throughout every crisis, we’ve been here as a trusted partner to help our clients through. Whatever comes next, we’ll be here for you.
Here’s to a successful and prosperous year ahead!
For advice about the ways in which our team can guide and support your business, please contact our team.