Cheshire's Mrs Business - Tracy Griffiths, founder and director of the Business Network Chester

PUBLISHED: 00:16 15 January 2012 | UPDATED: 20:54 20 February 2013

Tracy with some members of the Business Network Chester

Tracy with some members of the Business Network Chester

Tracy Griffiths, an entrepreneur, founder and director of the Business Network Chester, admits her organisation can be a barometer for the county's business community

Dont panic! Those two simple words sum up the sound advice to businesses confronting what has been described as the worst economic storm for an entire generation from the woman described as Cheshires Mrs Business.

Tracy Griffiths, as director of Business Network Chester, has a pretty unique insight into the countys business community.

Talking to businesses large and small has become a way of life for me since we launched the Chester group more than 18 months ago, explained Tracy. And when you work that closely with the business community you get a feel for the mood of the day. Most of use have been through booms and busts, recessions and slow downs but what is happening now is very different. The papers are full of doom and gloom and radio and television programmes feed us a constant flow of negative reports about the economy.

No wonder some people are down. I believe this constant stream of bad news can have a negative effect on real business. Customers are unlikely to spend as much if they believe they are in a tight situation that looks set to get worse. And then when businesses report a fall in takings they start cutting back on their spending.

Its a slippery slope to disaster, added Tracy, a woman who manages not just one, but two careers plus a husband and family.

When she isnt filling her role as the Chester business communitys leading networking guru, she might be found running her leadership coaching consultancy Elianna or spending time with her husband Nick and their children, Elizabeth, eight and Annalisa, six.

Lifes busier than ever for me at the moment and both my businesses are going well, said Tracy who had a successful senior management career with multi-national brand Adidas before setting up her own business. But I can feel a growing concern among businesses about the way our economy is heading. The great thing about the networking is that it is a tremendous support group for those business owners looking for help and advice when facing up to tough decisions. They can talk to fellow members for tips and inspiration and swap notes about situations they are going through.

In fact membership of an organisation like ours can be a lifesaver for those one-man or one-woman concerns when there is no one else in the office to share your worries with. Meeting once a month with like-minded people can be a boon. In addition to providing a forum where members can make new contacts, networking provides an opportunity to bounce ideas off others and to explore ways of dealing with the daily challenges that all businesses face.

So what advice does Tracy offer to small businesses? Well dont panic is a must. Panic can lead to rash decisions and that will ultimately lead to ruin. Keep calm, assess the financial situation of the business and then write down a plan of action. Make cuts where necessary but be cautious about where you cut. Cutting back on marketing and PR can be counter-productive if that is your main means of achieving sales. But a thoughtful and logical pruning of out-goings is a must.

Business owners must always stay positive and realistic. You need to motivate yourself. Also, please look at the broader picture. How can you increase sales? Can you diversify? Can you move the business in a different and potentially more profitable direction? And finally be proactive do not ask what your customer can do for you but what else you can do for them to make their lives easier too!

The print version of this article appeared in the January 2012 issue of Cheshire Life

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