Tough Challenges, New Possibilities: interview with Alison Hutchinson 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 Alison Hutchinson CBE, an award-winning leader disrupting the charity sector, with over two decades of senior experience across the financial sector.

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

The pandemic has really accelerated a lot of the trends that were already happening. We have digitally savvy consumers that have a multitude of options and expectations at their fingertips. These consumers want to be able to buy from the channel of their choice, get value for their money, and they want organisations they can trust and respect. They’re asking questions of businesses about their activities and how these align with the environment and communities. Small businesses need to ensure they’re responding to these needs and questions.

Alison Hutchinson

How important is leadership in coming out of this crisis?

Effective leadership means being visible, and ruthless in decision making but compassionate in the execution. Use your strengths as a differentiator. By nature, most small businesses are engaged in communities. Large organisations are watching as consumers shift to wanting to support their local businesses and they’re working out strategies to embed themselves more into the community, but small businesses have an existing advantage. Use it.

Alison Hutchinson

How can banks and financial services companies do a better job in helping small firms?

We’ve seen an awful lot of challenges around surviving throughout the pandemic. The biggest thing a bank can do for a small business is understanding their business plans and how they might be able to support in any debt or loan management. It’s a key time for banks to work out how many SMBs are struggling as a result of the pandemic, and how many are struggling in general, and put in place measures to lift them out of survival mode where their business plan demonstrates sustainability.

To read more of Alison Hutchinson’s insights, check out the full interview below.