Collaboration: David King of Larking Gowen find strength in numbers

IT IS very tempting to listen to the economic news and curl up in a ball and hope it goes away! Every day the headlines are taken by problems with the euro and the knock-on issues with Spanish banks and how our own economy is practically stagnant with forecast growth well below one percentage point.

Whilst these issues are fundamental and I would not want to play them down, how does the business owner in the East react to something that is well out of their control? Clearly it is important to be aware of the wider picture but common sense would suggest that concentrating on things nearer to home and more likely to be open to influence is likely to be a key strategy going ahead.

It is exciting to see that this approach is gaining momentum in our region and I have recently attended a meeting of the business community in Harleston who are the epitome of this idea. To see a room of forty or more business owners in a community want to act as one is a powerful and encouraging sight. What is even more pleasing is that they are looking to work together with other Waveney valley market towns as they recognise that they all have similar strengths and weaknesses and by cooperation they can start to move forward without unnecessary duplication of effort.

What can work for rural Harleston can also be replicated across other communities and regions. If you feel isolated then it makes sense to explore the opportunities that currently exist such as Chambers of Commerce, the Institute of Directors or the FSB or your own trade bodies.

However, if none of these quite hit the spot then there is little stopping you setting up a local organisation of your own. Have a word with other locals that you think might be interested and call a meeting in your local pub or hotel – you never know where such an exercise might end! Remember most of the National and International organisations would have started like that originally.

Paul Harris started Rotary in America just over 100 years ago in his local community and it now stretches around the globe. A testament to the power of connecting similarly interested people.

The economic crisis will eventually blow itself out but it is certain that the entrepreneurs of this country will be the ones who drive the recovery when it finally comes. If the spirit of collaboration can be harnessed to accelerate matters, even if it is in a small rural community, then not only will our economic futures look more encouraging but the communities themselves will benefit from a feeling of togetherness.

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Businesses working in tandem with others can influence an area much more than they can on their own and, like the summer weather, we could all do with a ray of economic sunshine to compliment this Olympic year. Accountants deal with numbers every day but the strength of them is how they combine to add up to more than their individual parts – a good trick if you can do it!

: : This article is designed for the information of readers. Whilst every effort is made to ensure accuracy, information contained in this article may not be comprehensive and recipients should not act upon it without seeking professional advice.

Larking Gowen is registered to carry out audit work in the UK by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales. Authorised and regulated by the financial services authority. �Larking Gowen.

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