Not so much ‘Fat Cats’ as ‘Tired Cats’

In a recent article by The Manufacturer, it was shown that Manufacturing Business Owners worked 41% more hours than the average employee.

This owner dedication was praised with the caveat that a healthy work / life balance should be considered, and a side note that financial gain was being put ahead of free-time. For many SME owners, particularly in manufacturing, financial gain is a huge priority to not only stabilize cash-flow, but also to ensure healthy profits going forward for onward investment.

Those of us who survived the last recession and who are now experiencing high-growth know exactly how expensive this is.

Returning to profitability after a recession is expensive.

Increasing that profitability (whilst ensuring your staff are rewarded) is expensive and growing your business is very expensive. In an SME the owner-manager will have final responsibility for all of this and more, and will often visualize and implement the strategy to achieve these critical success factors.

As the MD of a manufacturing company who has grown year on year (apart from the 2008-2009 freefall) with 20% growth achieved in our last financial year, I am all too aware that the time needs to be put in at the top to ensure this happens. Complacency is no longer allowed in our business – something I admit I was guilty of in the easy days before the recession wiped 40% off our turnover overnight – and the pain from this is still fresh in my memory.

Having come through this literally by blood, sweat and tears it is unsurprising that I and others are reluctant to throttle back on the hard work we are putting into our businesses.

As the pressures of the recession eased this naturally resulted in growth of the business, which in turn gives the business owner more to aim for; after all the growth should be sustained and increased going forward so we have a ‘buffer’ should the axe fall again.

Of course this hard work is emulated and often surpassed by loyal members of the team; and they are much more likely to go the extra mile when they see the ‘boss’ doing so too.

With frequent ‘fat cat’ articles appearing in the media, it is refreshing to see the hard work of business owners acknowledged and long may this continue.