1. looking ahead to 2022
Yep. It's that time of year already. As November fades into December, which will in turn pass in a flash, we start to look ahead to next year. This week Supper Club members enjoyed an excellent presentation from Andrew Jeffs and Peter Gray at finnCap Cavendish - followed by a lively discussion - during which they peered into their crystal ball and concluded that many of the factors driving a high volume of deals and record valuations are set to also shape the market in 2022. The biggest driver is the amount of foreign money sloshing around the City, with 65% of all deals this year involving an overseas buyer. If you're thinking about selling your business, now may be a good time to get in shape. Jeffs and Gray added that the things that have appealed to buyers this year (notably a stronger focus on governance issues) will continue to influence behaviour next year.
2. banking on a four day week
The kind of governance issues that potential buyers or investors are looking at includes the way you treat customers and also how you treat employees. Many firms are feeling the pinch of a tight labour market and starting to really struggle when it comes to recruiting and retaining talent at all levels. Hats off then to the always innovative Atom Bank, as it took the bold decision to became the UK's first bank to go to a four-day week. As a challenger brand and a digital-only bank, it already has a reputation for being more innovative than some of its more established competitors, and this move is only going to enhance that reputation.
3. The word of the year
A group of Supper Club Forum members this week enjoyed an excellent presentation on blockchain and Bitcoin, it was perhaps apposite that the word of 2021 - in a refreshing break from everything being about Covid - has been announced as NFT. There's just a small part of me that wants to gripe about the "word" of the year being an acronym. The larger, more cynical, part of me feels this is one of a certain type of modern announcement that seems to be made with controversy and publicity in mind. In which case NFT is the prefect choice.
4. Constructive paranoia
It may be that my views on the selection of the word of the year are just another example of the kind of paranoia that leads eventually to seeing conspiracies everywhere. A more positive spin on paranoia this week was presented to me in an interview with Supper Club member Joel Hopwood. One of the co-founders of Shopper Media Group, which was sold to Next15 for £50m earlier this year, Hopwood highlighted advice he was given to try and be "constructively paranoid", which is the opposite of the more common "toxic positivity". Constructive paranoia is about asking what is going to go wrong next and to focus in the good times on what can be done better. It was the approach adopted by Sir Alex Ferguson as Man Utd manager. After another winning season, he would head into the close season already thinking what needed rebuilding and which players needed replacing. Carefully controlled, this kind of relentless, restless pursuit of better is a classic trait of successful founders. But it can be exhausting for others in the business who may prefer the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach.
5. Book of the week
It was also a big week for another Supper Club member. Christine MacKay, founder of B2B animation house salamander.co, released her new book, Destination Animation: How smart marketeer convey complex messages memorably, aimed at helping to guide readers through the often bewildering process of commissioning a great B2B animation. The inspiration came from people always asking for assistance and explanation of the process and it uses a blend of practical tips and real-world cases studies to take readers through the entire process.