It’s good to talk

Its good to talk, to share the day

We know it’s good to talk. We are based at The Guild a coworking space in the beautiful Carlisle city centre.  Up until COVID our main business involved face to face contact with businesses large and small.  During Lockdown One we adapted to the new online world of Zoom ,Teams etc.  A brief respite during the Summer meant that we had the joy of actually talking to people face to face. Then Lockdown Two brought us back to the online world.

This week has really brought home how much we and other businesses have adapted.  We now all know more than ever that you have to talk and share your day with other businesses.

The new normal is not Shangri-La BUT it’s not Blade Runner either…

Our new normal is intense.  Like most SMEs we are probably working more concentrated hours than ever before. Some of this is good news and some not so good.  Answers to the following questions can have both a positive and negative impact on your life or on your business:

  • How many hours a week do you save not travelling to meetings?  But how many of those hours were non contact time that you could gather your thoughts in?
  • How many early mornings and late evenings can you fit in and not have to leave the house? Does this mean that work time has encroached on your home life?
  • Whether you’re working from home or from your business do you find you can focus on the task in hand quicker?  Are you focusing on business at the cost of everything else?
  • Does the loss of turnover ‘motivate’ you more to search out the new opportunities? Are you getting tired of chasing new?
  • Has the loss of regular income focused you’re mind on really cutting business costs back? Have you shrunk the business back to a point where you are doing everything again?
  • Or have lock downs and COVID made you really busy, where you are at full capacity? Is your business coping under the pressure and how much of this will continue once lockdown eases?

Questions, the good, the bad and the ugly can feel lonely without peers

The real danger of social distancing is that a cry for help or a shout of joy often goes unheard.  We know one of the main benefits of coworking is the ability to share the good and the bad.  Sharing this with fellow businesses just makes it better still.

We have found that we can now get some of this back online.  You don’t have to feel alone in the wilderness and you can share your joy outside of your room.

How we shared online…

Like many other businesses we have taken our established business relationships online.  Knowing who you are dealing with helps online relationship work.  We are working with a great business team who will launch a brand new product next year.  We were approached by an old business contact to write submissions for honours awards.  Knowing the team meant we could run phone interviews immediately and capture great stories around the nominees.

We are also working with a new business introduced to us by a fellow associate.  Here trust in the go between has meant we have all committed a significant amount of time to a project before any of us have met in person.

Trust is so important

Our final thoughts go to this week.  On Monday we held an ONIT Zoom meeting with our fellow Guilders. ONIT has been running for many months and it is now an online meeting of businesses (Guilders) connected with the Guild.  The agenda was simply how do we deal with our wellbeing?  We all laughed. We all reflected and most importantly we all shared our ups and downs.  Trust amongst a group of businesses that have shared the same experiences allows us to take on this new normal. We owe a personal thank you to Mondays group who just made our life that much better.

Peer to Peer, a place where it is good to talk

This week we also launched our first two Action Learning Groups for the BEIS funded Peer to Peer Network   facilitated by our Jacqui Jackson and the talented Tina Cook. This is where businesses can really share and work on solutions for their businesses with fellow business leaders. These groups will run through to March next year.  We are already really impressed with the level of honesty, trust and care our businesses are showing.  In Cumbria our cohorts and those of Cumbria Chambers are now full.  If you want to join the Cumbrian Peer to Peer Network there are still paces with groups led by Entrepreneurial Spark, the Leadership Secret and Skills for Care. Just contact Helen at the Cumbrian LEP for more details.

Final Word

It’s always good to talk.  The very act of saying out loud what you are thinking releases pressure from your brain.  We are sociable animals.  So please use what ever medium suits you AND get out there and talk.

If you want to know more contact us.


PEER TO PEER NETWORKS PROGRAMME STARTING IN NOVEMBER

Thomas Jardine help deliver Cumbrian Peer to Peer Networks

We are really proud to be one of the delivery partners for the Cumbrian LEP and BEIS

Who is it For?

Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (CLEP) is offering SME decision makers, in Cumbria, the opportunity to work collaboratively in small cohorts to address business challenges with their peers.

Engaging with like-minded individuals through a series of facilitated sessions you will have the opportunity to address your business needs, gain feedback and identify practical solutions in a confidential setting.

Benefits

By completing the Peer to Networks opportunity, you will:

  • Develop a trusted network of connections
  • Address and overcome business challenges
  • Develop new skills to recognise business opportunities
  • Evaluate your business style and share experiences

Eligibility

The programme is available to any SME business that have:

  • Operating for at least one year
  • Have at least five employees
  • Turnover of at least £100,000
  • Aspiration to Improve

Peer to Peer networking will enable develop strong business relationships and foster a new experiential business learning opportunity.

To Register your interest in the programme

Please email Helen Atherton at helen.atherton@thecumbrialep.co.uk

Who will contact you directly by return

If you want to be in a group facilitated by us please mention this to Helen

For more details  Keith@thomasjardineandco.o.uk or see : Brochure from CLEP 


Food and Place : why it’s important to your place

This is Cumbria at the NEC 2019       Cumbrian Food and Drink       Front cover of Carlisle Living "our food revolution"

Why is food important to place?

There are so many reasons why food and drink captures the essence of place . The French have a word for it ‘terroir’. Terroir is the flavour of the local produce comes from the land on which it’s grown. We go further. People in the place can and do influence the flavour of their food and drink. The Food and Drink from around Cumbria is from a place on the edge of nation ( England or Scotland). So we have learned to be more self-reliant whilst maintaining strong links to our national market place.

What we do

As Thomas Jardine & Co, our day job is to work with individual businesses in the area.  We help identify their pinch points and then develop solutions that either help them grow or become more productive.  We also help bring the national focus onto the great business culture that exists in our unique area.

Taking Cumbria to the Nation

In April we were proud to be part of ‘This is Cumbria’ taking a wide selection of our great food and drink producers down to the Farmshop & Deli Show in the NEC.  The joy of this was that ‘This is Cumbria’ was co-created by a group of like minded businesses.  It wasn’t delivered with external support offered to national stands there from Wales or Scotland.  It worked so well that we are doing it all over again in 2020 (give us a shout if you want to know more).

In May Thomas Jardine & Co revisited the DEFRA offices in London representing the Cumbrian Local Economic Partnership (LEP).  The meeting gathered LEPs from around the country who are developing a focus on the food and drink sector.  The conversation on the day covered the best use of our ‘natural economy‘ and the encouragement of a ‘circular economy’ .  In layman terms this means not destroying natural assets (land, water supply, air quality). It also encourages you to get the most out of everything you use.  The final focus from DEFRA was on Public Sector Procurement where they highlighted a software system from Crown Commercial that would allow local producers to supply Public Sector bodies. This is a particular aim of Carlisle Food City so it would be great if we could persuade them to test this in our place.

Celebrating our food and drink

In May Carlisle Living ran an excellent set of features on the Food Revolution going on in Carlisle celebrating the new food movement going on in our city. The old CN Group always celebrated the sector in style with their Carlisle Living Awards and it is hoped that the new owners will continue with this.

Places in the conversation

We keep on meeting people from the SW of England who have the same opportunities as up here in Cumbria. Consequently, we are developing similar solutions.  There has got to be something in Cumbria and Cornwall working to develop solutions that benefit the whole of the UK.  At the same time we are also talking to more organisations based in Manchester.  So part of the answer must also lie in working closely with stakeholders from our region.

As border country we are also working with business and groups from both England and Scotland.  Learning form each sides differing approaches to looking after its resources and supporting its businesses.  This attitude is part of what lies behind the growing ‘Borderlands’ project.  Our area is well aware that the line between Scotland and England  only exists on a map or political boundary.  Unless we build a wall will have a fluid movement of local goods and services across it. To be honest, history shows that even if Scotland and England go their own way again I am pretty sure us border folk will find ways of continuing their business activities with or without their nations blessings : for extreme examples just check out ‘border reivers‘ on google.

Come and talk to us

In July we are going to talk about food and place at the national Revive and Thrive Conference in Manchester would be great to catch up with any of you who want to talk about how food and drink works with your place.

It is a joy to see our work help individual business and to bring our place into the national conversation.  So if we can either help you as an individual business to get over that nagging issue at the back of your mind or you want us to help raise the attention of our place at a national level then please get in touch.

 

 


Big fish little pond or small fish big pond?

Defining your local place is never easy especially when you come to setting a border where everything beyond is not local…. Think about the political boundaries that already exist from parish to local councils to counties to countries. All these political boundaries have an impact on your place. To fix the impact of these areas our politicians simply invent new areas our city fish (Carlisle) will see impacts from the new ‘ponds’ created from BREXIT to devolution to the LEPs to Northern Powerhouse to Borderlands and I am sure yours will be the same.

All these areas seek to redefine the pond in which our city fish swim, in some cases we (Carlisle) are bigger than one pond (parish councils) in others we are still a relatively large fish (Borderlands) and in others we start to feel like minnows (Northern Powerhouse).

The question I think we all need to ask ourselves is “do we treat the smaller fish in our pond in a way that we would want the larger fish to treat us?”. At one end of the ‘pond spectrum’ is the totally equitable approach to place management where every fish gets the same share of the collective food bank. At the other end is the idea that the pond needs to feed the big fish so that it can protect the smaller fish from any large fish from neighbouring ponds. Do you feel yourself moving towards the equitable argument when your in a really large pond and towards the support the big fish argument when you’re in a small pond?

I know it’s more complicated than that. Projects aimed at social change are arguably better based as close to the end user as possible so for instance, drop in centres and community spaces all need to be spread across the pond. Whilst funded capital projects concentrated on one or two projects could arguably create anchors that would attract either visitors or employers to an area. This was certainly the argument back in the day of anchor stores for high streets or anchor multinational firms for industry strategy , times are changing as I heard at a meeting recently “ one large factory does not a local economy make” and the prospect of House of Fraser leaving our High Street demonstrates the lack of control your local area has over national retail chains. Having said that, focused action that is directly linked to your local area can have huge impact on your place, from May-July we were fortunate enough to host the ‘weeping window’ poppy display that poured over our castle keep and this has definitely increased the number of visitors to our area. The display originally set up at the Tower of London has toured the country for the last four years and Carlisle Castles connection as a recruitment base during the First World War meant we were fortunate enough to be one of the hosts for this magnificent thought provoking display.

As we all negotiate our share of the pond perhaps we should reflect the reason for the poppy display. The display in Carlisle is there because of the 23,000 recruits who passed through the castle during the First World War, 7,000 paid the ultimate sacrifice and died defending their pond. When those running the pond get it wrong, it’s often the fish that pay the price.

So the next time you feel like a fish in a pond , ask yourself :are you allowing enough of a share for your smaller neighbours and are you also supporting your bigger neighbours as they stand up for your pond.

 


Well if that was January, 2018 is going to be REAL exciting!

The place in which we live is always changing and with it brings new and exciting opportunities.

A view from Blencathra courtesy of Jackrabbit 

We want to collaborate with as many people as possible to help make our place even better and this January just highlights the great teams that are willing to be involved.  This is both in creating a new Guild building for co-workers in Carlisle and building our company Thomas Jardine & Co that looks to support our great family businesses and food businesses.

So, late last year we bought the old Guild building on Abbey Street and we were fortunate enough to be introduced to Les Harding by Chris and Malcolm from Black Box Architects.  Les is a miracle worker and his network is helping us breathe new life into the Guild.  In the Guild we were also lucky enough to have a chance conversation with Ben from A.B.Energy who is now covering all our heating and electrical needs.  The build is taking shape and we are hoping to have it ready for a soft launch at the end of March…watch this space.

Through Thomas Jardine and Co we have been fortunate enough to have serious conversations with a number of large and small food producers, listening to their plans and helping them focus on the future they want to see.  This has led to a number of new entries on our food map and the creation of a calendar that highlights key events for foodies both in the area and nationally.  We have also submitted written evidence on the importance of the cross-border food sector to the Scottish Parliaments Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee, as well as conducting our own survey of local food producers’ confidence for 2018.

We are working with Lancaster University to help deliver their Productivity through People Project and are also looking at a joint project with them in Donegal…more on this next month.

Jacqui is also on the judging panel for the Cumbrian Family Business Awards and is working with Sue Howorth (Family Business Network) and Armstrong Watson & Co on their ‘Let’s talk About it” family business series.  Sue and Jacqui are also working on a new family business project that could be really exciting.

Jacqui recently attended a Cumbria LEP meeting in behalf of the NW Institute of Directors and just before Christmas attended a review of research into Family Business, with Prof Carole Howorth from the University of York and Michael Bibby of Bibbys.

Busyish month with lots of catching up with old friends and starting up relationships with new businesses…this is a wonderful place to do business, let’s make it even better.

If you have an interest in Food, Family Business, Co-working and Place do get in touch at hello@thomasjardineandco.co.uk and/or follow us on Twitter @thomasjardineco