“Surviving The Economic Slowdown” Seminar

May 17, 2012

Small business owners convened this morning [May 17] at HSBC Bermuda’s Harbourview Centre in a business seminar entitled “Surviving the Economic Slowdown”.

Organised by HSBC Bermuda in collaboration with the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation, the seminar was attended by over 60 business owners and featured a panel of expert speakers who shared crucial tips on how to keep businesses afloat in a time of recession.

Phil Butterfield, HSBC Bermuda, Chairman, Board of Directors, opened the seminar by reaffirming the Bank’s support of local business. “In the long run”, he said, “Bermuda’s economic success will be determined by how our small and medium sized businesses perform”. “It’s therefore fundamental to the island’s economic health that we get it right in this sector”.

From left – Anthony Foster, Trina Roberts, Paula Marshall, David Hills and Phil Butterfield:

Mr. Butterfield noted that the entire world is experiencing unprecedented trying times economically, and that everyone has to have a survival plan in order to stay ahead of the curve rather than be overwhelmed by it.

David Hills, President of Small Business Advisors, presented a “Survival Guide for Small Business”. “To a pessimist an opportunity is a problem”, he stated. “To an optimist a problem is an opportunity”.

Hills went on to provide a road map to small businesses to help them go forward, remove their fears and gain a renewed sense of confidence. Key points on his road map were making a profit. “To make a profit”, Hills stated, “You have to keep close score of your numbers. This means having all your financial information at your fingertips, such as accounts receivable, current cash balance, operating forecast and knowledge of your revenue sources”.

Secondly, Hills emphasised the importance of properly managing your debt in order to prevent business paralysis, sleepless nights, lots of stress and bad decisions and presented ways in which small businesses can reduce their operational costs in order to optimise revenue. Finally Hills stated the importance of providing an excellent customer experience.

Participants also received “Money Makeover Tips” from Paula Marshall, Senior Business Development Manager in HSBC’s Retail Banking Wealth Management Division. Every small business owner, noted Marshall, actually has two businesses: their “official business” and their family household. Often the two get mixed up, to the detriment of the business.

Small business owners, Marshall noted, need to pay themselves a regular salary from their expense budget to avoid dipping into their business to subsidize their household. Their personal lifestyles need to be as strictly budgeted for as their business in order to keep making a profit.

Marshall’s money makeover tips include ensuring that you have an emergency fund that covers 6-9 months of your expenses, making a list before going shopping in order to only buy what you really need, switching off your electricity when you are not using appliances, leaving your credit card at home and having “Staycations” instead of travelling abroad.

Anthony Foster, CEO of Bermuda Sanitation Engineering Ltd and Chair of Bermuda Economic Development Corporation shared his own personal tips from life as a business owner. “In twenty years of running a business”, he noted, “I’ve never felt such great freedom. This is because I’m doing the work that is my own God-given gift and I love what I do”.

Foster pointed out the importance of competing on service, not price. “In Bermuda businesses cannot compete with US prices”, he said. “We have to have an attitude of being the best no matter what we do and gain customer loyalty through the value of our product or service”.

Foster encouraged business owners to network and associate with other business people in order to share services and strengthen their own offerings. “If we share, we’ll find we can help each other and the whole island becomes stronger”.

A joint initiative of HSBC Bermuda and the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation, the seminar series will cover a range of topics of interest to small businesses. The next seminar is scheduled for end of June 2012 on “Know your Numbers”.

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  1. Mad Dawg says:

    Perhaps they could get Minister Bean to present. His advice on surviving an economic slowdown would be “borrow as much as possible. Debt is good.”. Because he once read a wiki page on economics, so he’s an expert.