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Scottish business New Year’s resolutions

Scottish business New Year's resolutions
Written by publishing team

This has been a memorable year for many Scottish businesses, but Insider put a call out to businesses across the country to see what they learned during 2021 – and what they look forward to next year.

In this first part, we have insights from companies covering cybersecurity to hair care, and whiskey to construction.

Rachel Jones

Rachel Jones, CEO and founder of Edinburgh-based cybersecurity firm SnapDragon Monitoring

If 2021 has taught us anything, it’s that counterfeits and fakes are no longer just a problem for designer brands and luxury goods companies — today, all businesses are a target.

However, healthcare has become an industry of growing exponentially increasing concern. From fake vaccines, personal protective equipment, hand gel and face masks, in the past year, fraudsters have jumped into the global pandemic to profit from sales of illegal goods, which put people’s health at grave risk.

Our research highlighted that nearly 20% of UK SMEs have encountered a company selling counterfeit copies of their products, resulting in 93% of them incurring significant financial losses. While fakes can be just a nuisance to some brands, they affect their survival for others.

In 2022 we will aim to be the Scottish voice working to raise awareness about the dangerous business of counterfeiting, working with businesses to remove counterfeit products and educating consumers about their risks.

Suzie Gillespie, co-founder of natural hair care brand Moo & Yoo based in East Lothian
Suzy Gillespie

Suzie Gillespie, co-founder ofMoo & Yoo natural hair care brand based in East Lothian

This year, in the midst of a global pandemic, with the added pressure of prolonged lockdowns, we’ve detected a major change in the way people shop.

We have learned very quickly to be flexible and adaptable. This means we can switch from physical stores and salons to online sales and then back to a mix of online and physical sales again.

With our first appearance at HBeauty Edinburgh and Harrods online, we moved into the luxury retail market, which was a really exciting challenge.

Hearing from our customers in 2021 has been so important, and has led us to plan our subscription service for 2022. The feedback has made us see that people want to receive their essentials on a regular basis without having to remember to order them.

Next year, we will also continue to strive to be more ethical and sustainable, by researching new and innovative ingredients and packaging possibilities.

David Robinson, founder of parent-based digital marketing agency Red Evolution
David Robinson

David Robinson, Founder of Digital Marketing Agency at Apoyn red evolution

Running a tight financial ship, including putting VAT on one side and building a modest war fund to protect the medium term, has put us in a good position through 2021.

Our historical work practices, such as encouraging employees to work from wherever they suit them, have proven to give us an advantage over other companies, which may still be trying to get around this. We also learned that continuing to invest in ourselves – through new employees, marketing systems and software – was the right thing to do.

For the year ahead, we are rolling out new services and pushing more clients overseas, especially in the US, where we believe there is a lot of opportunity for UK-based agencies. We will also begin a five-year succession plan.

Edward Halsey, Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder of Scottish Commercial Insurance Broker
Edward Halsey

Edward Halsey, Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder of Scottish Commercial Insurance Broker

In 2021 we’ve seen firsthand the importance of great execution – too much emphasis is often placed on the planning phase, but bringing theory to practice is key.

It’s also been a year where we’ve seen how important transparency is to clients. Without transparency in fees, how do we determine the value?

We’ve also learned a lot about customers’ buying habits and we listen very well.

In 2022, we will ensure that we focus on what these customers need and how they want to buy it. It is time to insure the customer and not the other way around.

Duncan McRae and Peter Allison, founders of Leith-based whiskey blending company Woven
Duncan McRae and Peter Allison

Duncan McRae and Peter Allison, founders of Leith-based whiskey blending company Woven

Being young, smart, and able to change direction is not just a point of difference, but a competitive advantage in the current landscape. Data describing the seismic changes that have swept the beverage industry have not yet been published. From how consumers shop, to how they discover and brands consumers, massive changes have occurred across the board.

We spent a lot of time in closing thinking about how to start our business. There was a lot of uncertainty in our supply chain, and things slowed down before our launch. Although it wasn’t perfect, the transition opened our eyes to the fact that action is much better than thought. People forgive mistakes, appreciate honesty, and if you are passionate about what you do and why you do it, they will come with you on the journey.

We believe in blending as a metaphor for a good life and good company. Blending people, ideas and culture and creating a community around what we do. We want our home in Leith Biscuit Factory to be a melting pot of interesting and creative concepts. This will not happen without consciously paying off, so it will be our main focus in 2022.

ARRAN Sense for refillable products in Scotland
ARRAN Sense for refillable products in Scotland

Kevin Meichan, CEO, ARRAN Sense of Scotland

It has become clear to us how much importance our customers place on affordable and sustainable packaging during 2021.

I think with so many people regularly buying online and seeing how different retailers pack and send merchandise, it’s important to be a part of positive change.

We now have no plastic in our packaging and everything inside is recyclable – in 2022 we will continue to review our practices to make things more efficient, sustainable and environmentally friendly.

Richard Hepburn, managing director of Edinburgh-based mover firm Millar & Bryce
Richard Hepburn

Richard Hepburn, managing director of Millar & Bryce, an Edinburgh-based property transfer data provider

It is evident by the end of 2021 that many of our clients’ law firms have continued to evolve in their digital journey; Adapting operationally and commercially to the changing external demands demanded by the waves of Covid-19 restrictions within the real estate industry.

Together with parent Landmark Information Group, we have supported these efforts and see this as moving towards greater use of the remaining digital channels and processes in 2022, as our products and services continue to align with and in some cases drive this development.

Research from Landmark shows that 88% of residential property attorneys and transportation carriers believe they have had a greater reliance on technology since the pandemic, so working together on continuous innovation will provide increased levels of flexibility in dealing with any challenges we may face – particularly as the virus and its modifications continue to intensify. Impact on the business and operations of our clients and the broader industry.

2022 also offers us a fresh look at our broader impact as a business in terms of ESG and we have some great initiatives already underway to engage all our teams and contribute positively to this increasingly important agenda.

Michael Field, Managing Director of Livingston-based managed services provider Workflo Solutions
Michael Field

Michael Field, Managing Director of Livingston-based managed services provider Workflo Solutions

I think people are starting to look at 2022 through a new lens, despite the ominous backdrop of the Omicron variant.

In the latter half of this year we have certainly seen renewed optimism across the UK, as customer demand for remote work technologies increases and working from home becomes a more and more popular policy for many businesses.

Next year, I believe we will see an exponential growth in technologies that allow easy access to resources for remote collaboration between employees and these systems will need to include strong integrated security. So, it will be my decision to see companies in every sector embark on a journey of innovation like never before.

The importance of research and development for business management systems that provide a smarter way of working will increase – and most importantly if the variables of Covid continue to thrive and we must learn to live with it in a way that does not affect productivity significantly.

Uncertainty in dealing with these variables at the governmental level must not be allowed to hinder economic growth and prosperity.

Martin Ewart, CEO of Scottish professional services group Taranata
Martin Ewart

Martin Ewart, CEO of Scottish professional services group Taranata

Over the past 18 months, we’ve gone from “let’s survive this” to “let’s include new levels of performance”, rather than back to where we are now. Most of the clients we talk to share this sentiment and there seems to be a consensus that many of them have accelerated their business goals for many years in just a matter of months.

We have learned that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to our business, and this understanding has allowed us to consider the new elements we want to explore. The unique personalities of the brands under the Taranata umbrella have been an integral part of the pandemic, and we are passionate about creating an environment to allow our business and our people to find their own way forward.

There are some common elements such as speed of decision making, clear and simple organizational structures and empowerment of teams and individuals. But the “how” they develop will be different, and we see this as an essential part of our future success. The challenge will be making sure we help them solidify these new behaviors and ways of working through targeted support.

Alistair Wallace, Senior Partner at Scottish construction company Thomas & Adamson
Alistair Wallace

Alistair Wallace, Senior Partner at Scottish construction company Thomas & Adamson

Although the past 21 months have been challenging, we are encouraged by the surge in activity levels as organizations re-imagine what they want their office to look and feel as workers return.

Despite the increase in remote working, it is clear that a physical location remains essential, and clients are looking to create new innovative environments that encourage employees to balance the flexibility of working from home with the benefits of a collaborative office space.

As we approach 2022, we expect the market to remain crowded overall, with plenty of opportunities, however it will not be without significant challenges from price hikes, shortages of basic materials and an ongoing scarcity of skilled labour. The public sector will continue to be occupied with infrastructure requirements, particularly via additional education, and housing units will undoubtedly remain strong at all levels; Affordable, to buy for rental and private. Net zero will increasingly be in the forefront of business minds, too.

While the recovery from the pandemic continues, there is still a long way to go back to recovery, particularly with regard to retail and hospitality, which continue to be significantly affected by the growth of the Internet and the pandemic. But we are optimistic about the year ahead and ready to seize many growth opportunities as the landscape evolves.

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