Tough Challenges, New Possibilities: interview with Alastair Lukies CBE

Welcome to ‘Tough Challenges, New Possibilities’, the interview series that asks business leaders for their advice for small businesses to adapt and thrive in these challenging times. We spoke to Al Lukies CBE, a UK businessman and entrepreneur best known as a pioneer and champion for the UK’s global fintech industry.

What’s the biggest challenge small businesses face coming out of the pandemic?

The pandemic has served as a catalyst for many small businesses to expand into digital channels. As businesses mix online and offline, and their potential customer base grows, it’s imperative that they work out how to maximise that opportunity. Check that their products and services resonate with their new audience, and check how they can effectively reach that new audience with their marketing strategy. There’s also an opportunity for increased possibilities for access to capital – there are so many different channels of funding now.

Alastair Lukies CBE

What’s your advice to small businesses in this pandemic?

It’s understandably an incredibly frustrating time for many small businesses thanks to the disruption caused by the pandemic. However, if you’re able to, use the enforced downtime to think about your business, products and target customer. Then learn how to use digital channels to reach those customers. Instead of being constrained by your physical location, rethink your business around your main products and services and work out who is likely to want them and how they can access them.

What more should banks and financial services companies do to help small firms?

Banks must think about what they’re providing and what value it brings. The days of banks only offering banking products are over. Banks have to leverage data so that they’re able to offer small businesses services and products that make their lives easier. They’ve lost connection with their customers but, through tech and touch, they can become relevant again.

Alastair Lukies CBE

How can technology enable small businesses to make a difference?

Giving small businesses data allows them to reward customers for their business, fostering loyalty and creating new possibilities. Tools to achieve this have long been available to large companies but now a levelling of the playing field is helping small firms to benefit from the same opportunities. Firms accustomed to thinking locally need to think nationally and those used to thinking nationally need to think globally.

To read more of Alastair Lukie’s insights, check out the full interview below.