Our editor in chief, Tyler Brûlé, on how businesses can make the best of their lot this year.
If this issue catches you in the southern hemisphere then it’s likely that you’re shaking off the winter (given our distribution I’m assuming that you’re in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa or Brazil) and are now ready to give your business a final jolt before holiday season sets in. Up here in the northern hemisphere it’s full-speed ahead as we leave behind a disjointed summer and hurtle into Q4, year-end re-forecasts, cash-flow remodelling and the other essentials that come with keeping businesses nimble, responsive and, most importantly, solvent. But no matter what hemisphere you’re sitting in, this is the moment to do the following:
- Give your existing business a shake-up and be in front of your customers more than ever. And we mean in person, if possible.
- Quit your unfulfilling corporate job if it’s not delivering. Yes, you can certainly hold on for a payout but don’t wait so long that you lose your fire to do something new.
- Pull together all the outstanding elements for the brilliant idea that you had a few weeks ago and make it happen – team, business plan, investors, architects – whatever it takes to get your idea off the ground.
Should you still find yourself stuck and unable to unlock the idea that has managed to get lodged above your left earlobe, then try this little exercise. If you already know how to play “house” by fantasising about your dream set-up, mentally decorating it and eventually turning it into reality, then why not devote a weekend to playing “village”. All you need is the makings of a settlement (butcher, baker, high-speed broadband and so on), decent property prices, a very open mind and an informed guide.
In the days running up to the completion of this issue, my friend Andreas showed me around his village in the Lower Engadine region of Switzerland. I was dazzled by the amount of opportunities. Due to a transition between generations in the village, a few people are selling their properties, while many folk from Zürich and elsewhere are looking for a not-too-time-intensive return to the land. After coffee and fresh apricot cake, Andreas took us for a stroll around town (I cannot say its name as he fears an invasion). I spotted at least five ideas to establish businesses that could range from micro to massive. We saw one building that could be a perfect little 12-room hotel and café; a dairy beyond the town square with all the charm and potential to become an international cheese brand if it had the right branding; and those slopes full of wildflowers and pines could surely act as a base for a beauty and wellness business with super-regional reach.
By the time I got back in the car, I had not only mentally decorated a mini-headquarters and farmhouse but thought about semi-rural life in the Alps: felt caps, boiled-wool vests and goats – but still good rail connections. If you want to dream about a similar set-up, you’ll enjoy meeting the men and women who’ve opted for less-urban arrangements and many more informed, daring and wise characters in this issue of The Entrepreneurs. Remember, we’re around every week on Monocle 24 with our radio programme and podcast of the same name, which is where it all started. Enjoy!