I started my business in 1976. For those of you too young to remember what Britain was like then, I can tell you that inflation was running at 22% and the UK was so broke that the government was forced to take an emergency loan from the International Monetary Fund.
In fact, economic conditions then make the present slowdown look like a bed of roses.
But despite all that, I managed to start my own clothing business that year, cashing in on the advent of punk rock, which was itself a reaction to the stress the country was under, and my business thrived.
The point I am trying to make is that economic downturns throw up all sorts of opportunities for fledgling businesses and independents. The multiples react to slowing sales by playing it safe, not taking any risks with new products or unproven brands.
But this is not what is needed to persuade cash-strapped shoppers to part with their money. What does tempt them is something different and new, which independent businesses are best placed to provide.
I heard a director of a large internet-based retailer say last week that he thought there was no longer room for the small independent business on the internet and that the large players were now unassailable. This sort of complacent thinking convinces me that the opposite is true. There is always a new niche to exploit and a fresh idea that can grab the public’s imagination. So if you are reading this thinking of starting up a new venture, but holding back because of worries about the economy, I say, go for it – that is certainly what I will be doing.