Don't believe the hype

12 October, 2007
Some of the business advice dished out in the print media is well wide of the mark and written by people who have no experience in the field, says Tony Phillips
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Recently I read an article which implied that small companies should think and act 'big', if they want to actually become big. The writer then proceeded to tell readers to hire people that they would not actually need until the following year, once the company had grown.
Great, but how do you pay their salaries? When I started, we were often short of cash to pay wages for the staff we had, let alone for extra staff we did not need.This is why I have reservations about consultants - they always seem to come up with ideas that need more cash than I have to spend.If consultants are all so clever, why don't they run their own business and make money, rather than try to tell me how to run mine?So many consultants appear to have been made redundant by the companies they worked for. A question that always enters my head is that if they were so good at their job, why did they get made redundant in the first place?Many of the people that hand out business advice have never run a small company with very little capital. They simply wouldn't preach such rubbish, if they had.Mind you, a great deal of rubbish is written in papers and magazines, with the exception of British Baker, of course! For example, there was an article in The Observer recently with the headline: "Can shop-bought bread be ethical?"The writer went on to ask why a perfectly ordinary loaf should pass the £1 mark. She obviously had no idea of the cost of ingredients, labour, overheads and distribution. Need I go on?These writers must live in a cocoon, untouched by reality, although if they are paid to write at least they should acquire a little knowledge of the subject. The journalist went on to attack the Chorleywood bread-making process, stating that bread made in this way is not good for you.Well, there may be an element of truth in that, but I would have thought it is something of an overstatement.Artisan bread is better for you and tastes superior but it doesn't take a genius to work out that it requires a great deal more skill, time and labour to make, thus it costs more to produce.We are told there are 30,000 bakers in France and only 3,000 in the UK. Could one of the reasons for this be that people like this journalist are beefing about paying over £1 for a loaf?The oddest thing in The Observer article, however, was the statement that the Chorleywood process is energy intensive. The writer advised readers to make their own bread in breadmakers instead as they only use 400 to 800 watts of electricity.Now, I may be thick, but if everybody made their own bread, the energy consumption would be huge. Just imagine 40 million people all switching on their bread- makers each day! n



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