Weathering the storm
You may have spotted an old weathervane at the entrance to Goblands. It’s a cherished possession, despite having no symbolic or practical relevance to the day to day running of the farm. It belonged to Maxine’s father, rescued from the roof of an old Victorian schoolhouse. And after he passed away, we learnt he had gifted it to Duncan in his will. Apart from assisting with positioning it in his garden some 25 years ago, Duncan really had no connection to the weathervane. But knowing Derek Page as we did, that was entirely the point. It was a wry joke, designed to raise a disbelieving smile, that we would be best suited to find it a new forever home.
Although its presence is purely aesthetic, the weathervane does seem to us to be an apt metaphor for how small businesses are having to weather the current economic storm(s!). According to an FSB report in August this year, rather than expect to grow, more than half of small businesses say they will either remain the same size, downsize or at worst close. And whilst results differ by sector, the report shows that record numbers of small businesses across the board warn that higher costs, rising fuel prices and energy hikes are threatening economic growth and recovery, with many small firms now fighting for their survival.
We wholeheartedly support the FSB and others in calling for the government to introduce measures such as reversing National Insurance rises and VAT cuts on energy bills to support small firms during the rocky months and years ahead. After all, small businesses are the bedrock of a strong economy. They are the main drivers for growth.
In whatever way we can we support the growth of the small businesses on our farm. The benefits of our particular rural location include great access links by road as well as free parking for everyone. Free parking is a huge support and one of the key selling points for incoming tenants. Not only that, we’ve also negotiated with our suppliers to agree fixed energy prices on the farm until 2024. Savings we’re passing directly on to every business here.
And we support during adverse weather. In recent years we’ve used heavy duty farm machinery to shift snow so tenants can still come to work safely. During Storm Eunice in early 2022, Duncan successfully revived a vintage generator to assist one of our businesses in saving thousands of pounds worth of frozen stock during the power outage, helping to minimise impact on their stock lead times, as well as the financial consequences.
The way we see it, whatever direction the wind is blowing in, or whatever the next ‘weather front’ may look like as it heads towards us, we need our small businesses to thrive. And at Goblands, we do our best to help them do just that.