Published: 3 July 2005
In the middle of a crowded & noisy room on Friday night, I listened, fascinated, to an explanation of a couple of business events which I knew entailed a lot more than appeared on the surface.
On Saturday I got an email from the friend of a supplier who lost $20,000 in the failure of a builder’s company which went into liquidation 5 years ago. 4 years later the builder lost another company. The emailer figured that if the builder in question hadn’t started yet another company by now, he surely would and there would be more suppliers losing out.
Years ago I listened to a senior member of the Institute of Directors as he told me how he would work for new measures to prevent the guts again being ripped out of businesses by passing snake-oil salesmen.
In reverse order, I think little was done post-1987 to stop the sellers of snake oil using their charm, little is done to prevent business collapses or to monitor or help those whose businesses have collapsed, and the world of rorts is as alive & well as ever.
The developer in the top paragraph told me that, one day, he’d tell me the whole story. I’m not at liberty to tell any of it yet but, combined with the effect on the unfortunate supplier mentioned in the next incident, the rorts as outlined were enough to convince me that there is a more valuable role that this website can play.
My emailer, above, sent his message because he’d discovered the builder’s 2nd liquidation in the U column. And so he wrote: “No doubt he’ll set up again if he hasn’t already and shaft some more tradespeople & suppliers. This makes me so frustrated. Is there really nothing that can be done?”
I assured him that something can be done, and will be. It starts here.
The U column began with the intention of being a gossip column, but I’m a journalist, not a blogger, and as you expect accuracy in what I write so I have to be accurate. I have to check detail, so what appears in the U column is fairly formal.
The U column is also predominantly about liquidation, though it wasn’t entirely so in the early days. I created the Nu column as a balance, but didn’t make time to feed it much information. Checking detail for the Nu column is even more time-consuming (& exhausting) than for the U column. Nevertheless, it’s a feature of the BD Central websites which is probably more valuable than the U column.
The intention of the Nu column is to present business going forward rather than backward â€“ new businesses, and of course the relationships that give them context. As well as the positive, you will also see the warning signs â€“ the creators of phoenix companies, for example.
That’s the first point arising in response to the email above â€“ the Nu column will have regular input. This leads to a series of other points.
New Zealand operates pretty much on a “buyer beware” business basis. We’re quite an educated society, though our education might be totally irrelevant to our business requirements. We like to trade but lack many of the skills we need to do it better. Crucially, I think we also lack the supports that would make us start businesses better, run small & middle-sized businesses better, keep them from dying â€“ and killing the businesses of those who trade with us â€“ and, for those who want to start again after a business collapse, how to do that better too.
We have numerous organisations & a few businesses that do offer business support, but obviously from the high number of collapses of small firms we’re no good at taking advantage of these services. One answer could be to force people to take courses, to attend seminars. I don’t think that’s a real answer. Everybody knows you can sleep your way through a seminar which is earning you credits for an annual certificate.
I propose to pick up on these issues, probably on the Forward thinking website, outlining what is available, what isn’t being done and how more might be done to improve business performance.
I’m also open to contributions, suggestions, interview ideas & tips on this subject.