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Chamber Matters: Diversification

David Craig, Chamber board member and Operations Manager of Nuvia Limited in Caithness, considers diversification to meet new markets.

Before writing this I thought it wise to first review some of the previous columns presented by my board colleagues, to avoid repeating their thoughts and to draw upon their experiences. I was encouraged by the positive themes across a number of business sectors and it prompted me to think about diversification.

It is apparent that with the predicted changes to the Caithness economy, a number of companies have already grasped the initiative to diversify and engage in new sectors. Their drivers may be different, whether they are already seeing a decline in their existing customer base, a growth opportunity or just the desire to change direction and do something different.

From my own experience we have had some success venturing into “foreign fields”, however we try to balance the need for change and growth against the backdrop of satisfying current and future client demands.

Diversification does not necessarily mean reinventing yourself, as most transitions are a direct transfer of existing skills, services or products applied a new client base. With signs of improvement in the economy there are a number of new opportunities out there, some of which may not be too far from your own front door.

Diversification does require some investment and in some cases this can be fairly minimal, for example getting to know new clients and their requirements. I would suggest this initial investment is money well spent before you take the leap of faith. However we also see cases where more investment is required in additional training, additional recruitment or capital investment.

We also have to recognise that new clients working in the area have a desire to engage with local companies, both as a means of keeping their costs down, and of meeting corporate responsibilities by investing in the local business and communities. Local agencies and the Chamber of Commerce often act as facilitators in bringing clients and suppliers together.

For those seeking to diversify out of the county there are a number of additional issues to be considered, such as communication and transport links. The internet revolution has given us instant access to the world, and improved connectivity due to be provided in the near future should help local businesses keep in touch and remain competitive. We cannot change our geographical distance from the rest of the UK planned improvements to the infrastructure should also help Caithness. 

Organisations like the Chamber of Commerce are there to help local business: whether voicing concerns on behalf of the business community, pointing businesses in the direction of funding bodies, assisting with training, or facilitating client engagement, we are there to support Caithness.