Liz Mcareavey: Change is neither cheap nor easy

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The pace of change in this new digital era is both startling and exciting. The digital revolution is innovative and disruptive with new business models exploding onto the scene.

Airbnb, Uber and Amazon are examples of the new generation of global companies that challenge traditional business thinking and we all need to grasp the opportunities this brings. It’s estimated that 65 per cent of the jobs our children will be doing in the future haven’t been invented yet.

Digital connectivity removes the barriers of peripherality and remoteness and this plays well for Scotland’s future economic prospects if we move quickly to support our emerging businesses and encourage scale-up.

Yet in spite of this tech transformation, we are still not producing the volume of global businesses from our many incubators and start-up successes.

The Scottish Government’s economic strategy is founded on the vision for a prosperous, fair and well-connected Scotland.

We need a clear Industrial Strategy that supports this in the long term–sustainable economic growth that ensures increased competitiveness and tackles inequality, managing the transition to a lower-carbon economy, delivering enhanced public services and supporting employment and opportunity across Scotland. In reality, to deliver this we need an indigenous business sector that reaches out to the rest of the world.

We need to encourage our entrepreneurial community – the new wealth creators and job creators, in the new emerging sectors of Big Data, Tech, Fintech and Digital.

We need to support not only the birth rate of these high-growth start-ups, but also their sustainability. How do we identify the barriers to growth? How do we re-cycle the experience and knowledge of successful businesses back into the up-and-coming progenies?

Often we have great ideas and enthusiastic founders that struggle to survive beyond the early years. Investors want strong management skills, robust processes, clear strategies and plans and business models that are well structured, ethical and efficiently run.

The main challenge faced by businesses at the moment is access to funding, but in fairness, are we supporting our start ups to get the house-keeping right, so they can present well-shaped businesses rather than well-shaped ideas.

We need an industrial strategy that provides talent and labour, business support and experience

This is critical to us rebuilding business confidence and navigating the uncertainty of the next few years.

Liz Mcareavey is CEO of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce

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