Posted on

January snow & forecasting

Snowday or not?

At the weekend we had the first dusting of 2016 snow here in hardy Hertfordshire!  It didn’t last long. It was not enough to make it a #Snowday. No school closures and no bringing the Monday morning traffic to a halt!

The weather forecast gave us sufficient warning so we were able to prepare for a day of snowball fights.  Economic forecasts should also enable us to prepare for changes; for example planning for interest rate rises.  Recently Red Potato have been asked to undertake surveys for local businesses.  In each case the business was keen to understand what their customer thought about their products and services.  Red Potato have then helped those businesses with some simple programmes to build upon what they are good at and address the concerns raised by customers.

Good market research can’t prevent winter weather but it can help businesses adjust and take pre-emptive steps to ensure they are prepared for economic headwinds.



Posted on

What does it take to be an entrepreneur?

Well first of all, if our straw poll is anything to go by, most entrepreneurs wouldn’t describe themselves as “entrepreneurs”!

In our survey the most common words business owners used to describe themselves were “positive, determined, optimistic”.   Not one of them described themselves as an “entrepreneur”. This is understandable, because the truth is not all business owners are “entrepreneurs”.

If Wikipedia has quoted the Austrian Economist, Schumpeter correctly then “Entrepreneurs are innovators who use a process of shattering the status quo of the existing products and services, to set up new products, new services.”   So using Schumpter’s definition, to run a business you do not have to be an “entrepreneur” – you could run a very unsuccessful business, you could be very fortunate to receive finance from a benefactor, or you could inherit a customer base unable or unwilling to move.  There are probably lots of other ways to run an “unsuccessful” business, but this article is about business owners and entrepreneurs who need to innovate to deliver results.

Businesses need to innovate to make money to employ people, sell more, invest to grow the business, pay suppliers and contribute to the wider community.  The ability to make money from your vision, hard graft, and superior offer is what drives a successful business owner.   To do this the business owner has to have a firm grasp of their value.

The value of the business owner could be defined by existing customers. What do the customers perceive to be of value? Is it the business owners insight, experience, customer focus – if it is all of these things you are running a successful business! Equally the business owner needs to understand the monetary value of their time, and stay focussed on the business goals


And if all this sounds like hard work, then you are right it is- that is why as well as the ability to innovate, true entrepreneurs have to be “determined, positive, and optimistic” – so better get on with it!


Posted on

Why I don’t like “Focus Groups”

Well the original idea was a good one, but I think the phrase “focus group” has become debased such that sometimes it can be code for getting a group of people together to legitimise a decision  – policy based evidence.

Effective engagement takes time, needs to be authentic and use different methods to attract different views.    Think again about “Hard to Reach”.   How well represented are white men, aged between 30 and 50 who are in work in consultation meetings, how do make your services relevant to a single working mother juggling work, school and home?   Not easy questions, but authentic engagement is not a quick fix either.