7 12 2011

Today’s BBC TV programme ‘Rip-Off Britain’ has rightly highlighted the damaging effects on business of low Broadband speeds. These low speeds, usually in rural areas, can seriously undermine the potential a business has for success. The issue also impacts on domestic users and has been recognised by the government who are investing £530m to address the problem. In the meantime we have sympathy with these customers as they are ripped-off with charges relating to far better service than they receive.

But what the ‘Rip-Off Britain’ programme also highlighted without being aware of it, is how not doing your homework can have a drastic effect on the success or otherwise of your business.

This blog recently highlighted how investing a small amount of money in the services of a good strategy consultant could have saved a Reading baker their whole year’s profits. What the Rip-Off Britain programme did was highlight how not getting your research right can seriously undermine your business’s health. Some might say it’s common sense, which is easy to say in hindsight, but the obvious is not always so obvious in advance.

Living and working in London, Martin and Diane Verlaine were successful people but, as Diane explained to the BBC, they were like ships passing in the night and they feared that if they didn’t change something all their endeavours would benefit only the tax man on their passing.

So Martin and Diane decided on setting up a holiday cottage business and they bought a beautiful cottage in Devon and left the rat race but are now far from happy. Why?

Slow broadband speeds are having a negative impact on business. Diane (a former IT Project Manager) would like to keep all their IT ‘in house’ but is having to outsource sales and booking because rural Devon’s broadband isn’t up to the task. Furthermore, the slow connection speeds upset guests who are used to faster connection at home.

Martin explained; “I don’t think we thought, with having lived in London and other towns, that to have such a slow broadband connection was something that we needed to take into consideration. I don’t think that we believed that it wasn’t a problem that there wasn’t a solution for.”

Frankly (and I know this sounds harsh), he could have stopped at; “I don’t think we thought.” How often do you hear the excuses from underperforming businesses that start with, “we didn’t think…?”

I have sympathy with businesses who are suffering because they are located in slow broadband areas. Something must be (and is) being done. There is an exception to how far my sympathy goes; those who chose to move to such areas even after the slow broadband speeds were known; they are not victims of slow broadband they are victims of their own poor strategic planning.

Whether it is a bakery investigating a Groupon offer, a holiday cottage business requiring good broadband or designing rockets to send people to Mars it is folly to put your business at risk by not undertaking the research which can make the difference between success, mediocrity and failure.

Business owners have their areas of expertise; strategy consultation is rarely part of that skill set; that is where Cowan Global and businesses like ours come in. You are passionate about your business and your products or services, we are passionate about helping businesses become successful businesses. Yes we charge, so do you for your cupcakes, holiday cottages or rocket-science. But what we sell offers you medium to long-term business viability and ultimately success.

It’s your business. How successful do you want it to be?

View the 7th December episode of Rip Off Britain on iPlayer here (expiry date unknown).

© Jim Cowan, Cowan Global Limited, December 2011

Read more blogs by Jim Cowan


Twitter @cowanglobal




2 responses

2 05 2012
Dianne Verlaine

I would like to point out that having made the decision to move to Devon we arranged with jolly old BT to have the phone and broadband connected long before we moved down. We were assured that there would be no problem and that all would be working by the time we moved in. 7 Months later we were still waiting for a phone line never mind a broad band connection. We both have strategic business planning skills as it is a pre-requisite of our jobs.

Dianne Verlaine

5 05 2012

Hi Diane,

As someone who has suffered at the hands of BT myself in the past, I sympathise. However the topic of the ‘Rip-Off Britain’ item was poor/no broadband provision in rural areas not whether BT were connecting people within a reasonable time-frame. Poor service from BT is one, very serious issue for business. Setting up a business in a rural setting without researching essential requirements and without speaking to other businesses in the area about broadband (and other business essentials) reception is poor planning.

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