Tyler Brûlé on why it’s essential that entrepreneurs are fully equipped to ensure the survival of their businesses.
Remember the first time you asked for a Swiss Army knife? You might have launched your first appeal sometime around your seventh birthday, already armed with a host of reasons why you not only needed one but why you were perfectly capable of managing such a device. After all, if you were allowed to use an unwieldy Spanish steak knife to cut into a beef tenderloin on a Sunday evening then there should be no issues with a pocket-sized knife designed to extricate you from all kinds of difficult situations. I got my first Swiss Army knife when I was about 10. Before that I had other pocket knives but they didn’t quite compare to my Victorinox with its toothy saw, tweezers and scissors. There was a certain rite of passage that came with getting that knife and although it’s not in active use I still know where it’s safely stored.
For this second edition of The Entrepreneurs we’ve employed a “monocle-ised” version of the Swiss Army knife as our cover star for a variety of reasons. In many ways it informs almost every aspect of this current edition as it’s resilient, multi-functional, reassuring and a constant classic. It offers all the basics that you need to perform the simplest tasks without any distractions. At its core it’s a survival tool and, for many a start-up and business owner, it’s more than a metaphor for what’s required in these turbulent times.
Despite the complications of remote working, a largely shuttered Midori House in London, printing and logistics based in Germany and a worldwide audience, we’re happy that this issue has reached you wherever you happen to be building, restoring or launching your business. We have always counted entrepreneurs as our core audience and, through this edition and our weekly audio series of the same name, we want to be a source for the freshest ideas and most inspiring stories, as well as a compass for the opportunities that so frequently spring from a crisis.
If there’s one thing that this virus has brought to the fore it’s the importance of small to mid-sized enterprises and their contribution to innovation, employment and also the community. In too many countries, governments and banks stumbled with their assistance packages, not recognising the need for speedy solutions and swift liquidity. At the time of writing (6 April 2020), G7 economies are still fumbling around and attempting to figure out how to unpick the bureaucratic frameworks that simply don’t serve the entrepreneur who needs to meet payroll, buy services and ensure that there’s stability for the coming quarters.
Which brings us back to the knife and to Switzerland in particular. At the outset of the pandemic the country’s Federal Council promised fast bridge loans and even faster deployment of funds. As a Swiss-based enterprise, we were happy to hear about the scheme, applied through our bank and within 24 hours had more than chf500,000 (€470,000) in our account – interest free, no penalties, repayable in up to seven years – with six basic questions to answer. This should serve as a benchmark to all nations moving forwards when it comes to recognising the importance of small to mid-sized enterprises and how they should be managed.
As the world marches out of this dark period, you can count on us to be here as a sounding board, a source for enlightening reportage and an empathetic peer. Thank you for your support. Cheers.