INTOUCH: Growing Despite The Recession

Dick Hubbard is man who knows how to grow company during recession; he’s been there before. Hubbard Foods was born in 1988, just after the sharemarket crash in 1987.
Auckland’s former mayor, now involved in business in governance capacity, shared his insights with business people at the Campbell Tyson Cooper White-sponsored Enterprise Franklin business breakfast in Pukekohe recently.
Don’t be risk averse and don’t punish failure, Hubbard urged.
“Innovation is fundamental part of business and if you haven’t got the mindset that is about innovation and looking at new products and processes, then I think you are greatly limited in what you can do,” Hubbard said.
“I see so many organisations that punish failure to the extent that they actually stop and stifle innovation,” he said.
Of course, failure must be kept in perspective and proper processes and systems need to be put in place to ensure corrective action is taken to quickly recover and mistakes should only be made once.
Allowing people to investigate new opportunities and not restraining them with written brief is key factor.
Contributions of new ideas should be encouraged from any area of the business, not just those responsible for innovation or management.
Try not to kill new ideas with negativity because one idea may spark another which leads to great new product.
“Once it [the idea] is cut off, it can be lost forever,” Hubbard said.
In tight economic times, the population becomes more values based and businesses can employ sustainable practices to attract customers.
Whether it is environmental or social responsibility, consumers are interested in how businesses are addressing these issues.
“The one proviso I put on the question of sustainability is that it has to be genuine,” Hubbard said.
“Don’t underestimate the ability of consumers to spot ‘green washing’ or tokenism. They might not know what’s wrong but instinct tells them that the claims don’t stack up and you will obviously get marked down rather than up if that is the perception.
“Sustainability has to be very genuine commitment and not something that is just done for marketing reasons or presentation.”
When things improve in two or three years, business should start planning for the next recession, Hubbard said.
“Good times and bad times are as inevitable as the tide goes in and the tide goes out and if we haven’t seen the recession coming, then we haven’t acted as business people,” he said.
“It’s an inevitability that the longer the good times go and the higher things go during the good times, the greater the crash has to be. That’s just fundamental of economics.”

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