While politicians might still be issuing opinions about the pros and cons of globalisation, businesses have long come to terms with the reality of competing in global markets. In order to sustain steady growth in the long term, businesses need access to international suppliers and markets.
It’s natural for businesses to prioritise their near-term bottom line above all else. Driving growth, managing cash flow interruptions, and investing in innovation for the future is expensive. Businesses who don’t control their costs, or misallocate funds, can quickly find themselves in financial difficulties. Cutting costs in the wrong places, however, can have similarly disastrous consequences, especially in the long term.
The European Commission has increased Ireland’s Rescue and Restructuring scheme from €20 million to €200 million. This ten-fold increase comes explicitly to offer rescue aid and temporary restructuring aid to Irish small businesses suffering from “acute liquidity needs” in the wake of Brexit. While this acts as a clear political signal from the EU that it intends to support Ireland, it’s still unclear how much effect a €200 million fund will actually have in the event of a no-deal scenario. Much more substantive support comes from the Bank of Ireland, which recently established a €2 billion Brexit fund for Irish businesses both north and south of the border.
At the age of 11, Ben Towers took on a gig to design a website for a family friend for £50. Finding that he liked the work as well as the pay, he registered on an online freelancing platform and began producing websites on a regular basis. Within two years, he had hired his own full-time freelancers to support him, putting him on the enterprise road.
After the massive layoffs that the UK, Ireland, and other EU countries, as well as the U.S experienced during and after the financial crisis, many young professionals turned to freelance work to support themselves. This was ideal for cash-strapped businesses who struggled to fill every role with full-time staff. Now, a decade later, businesses all over the world rely on this new, often digital gig economy workforce as a part-time or irregular skilled labour pool.
While the tech industry leads the world in innovation and represents an enormous portion of the developed world’s economic potential, it lags far behind when it comes to social progress. In an Australian survey by the Human Rights Commission, 29 per cent of women over the age of 15 reported being sexually harassed at work. While that number is high overall, this general figure stands in stark contrast to the rate of sexual harassment in the tech industry.
In the National Competitiveness Council’s December 2018 report, the NCC has singled out a worrying trend regarding the productivity of Irish businesses. While Ireland ranks well in overall productivity and competitiveness on an international level, the overall figures obscure a more precarious reality. Domestic Irish businesses are largely underperforming compared to international competitors, with just a few highly successful “frontier firms” propping up productivity figures for the entire country.
Moving into the coming decade, developed countries around the world, from Australia and New Zealand to the US, Canada and the UK and Ireland are facing a growing skills shortage. Compounding this, it’s important to note that some major developing countries are also affected. In the past, developed countries could compensate for skills shortages through immigration, by importing skilled workers from countries such as China and India. However, these countries are today facing their own growing skills shortages due to their own rapidly growing economies and demographic changes.
Michelle Phan wanted to disrupt the beauty industry, but had no resources, no entrepreneurial experience, and no clear business model. What she did know, though, was that Youtube was the global television of the future, or at least the 2010s.
Fifo Capital CEO Nigel Thomson met a young 14-year old Liam and his family a few years ago, through a car club event day at Pukekohe Racetrack, New Zealand. At this event, kids were welcome to get in and zoom around the track along with cars owner-driver. As luck would have it, Liam happened to get in Thomson’s car, who, to his surprise, quickly found the promisingrace car champion telling him the correct lines to take on the track. Impressed, and very surprised, Thomson decided to begin helping him to fund his passion for racing. Today, just a few years later, he’s a Fifo Capital sponsored racer with a growing international profile.