I don’t just think it’s because I am getting older (just having celebrated a very large birthday), but I am sure there is a much higher number of younger people in the speciality food sector these days. It could well be a case of “don’t the policemen look young these days?” but I don’t think so.
For many years the mainstay of the industry has been, for example, bankers coming out of the city to open a delicatessen or indeed policemen taking early retirement to start producing adult soft drinks. Amusingly, they have sometimes found gambling on the stock-market considerably less taxing than running their own business. However, I digress! My main encouragement recently was looking around the stands at the Cotswold Fayre 2016 Launch Trade Shows, and realising there were a number of young entrepreneurs in the building. One reason we started our “Food & Drink Young Entrepreneur of the Year” a few years ago was precisely because we couldn’t see them. Now it appears we can start to see young talent within our sector. Hoorah!
We always need fresh impetus and these millennials can bring it. After all, their generation are now a percentage of our customers and this will increasingly be the case over the next years. Their energy is contagious and with some honing that generation is the future of our businesses. That does sound trite as this is obviously true across the business world, but in our sector there has been an over-dominance of the older age group, so we are more in need of the younger generation than others.
Why is it, do you think, that large corporations, such as Google and Microsoft, and even large food companies buy small innovative enterprises, often for huge amounts of money? Simply because large corporations sometimes find it very hard to innovate. It’s the oil tanker analogy. Small enterprises find it much easier to adapt and create and innovate than larger companies which often stifle creativity by too many rules and bureaucracy. The culture has often one of maintenance rather than development. Large businesses are often great at making good ideas work and bringing them to market but often not good at having the ideas in the first place. Actually the technology sector is very good at creativity even within the large companies, but this isn’t always the case across other industries.
The world of food is full of new ideas at present. Maybe some of those who own larger companies should consider buying a share in some of the smaller innovators’ businesses in order to help them bring their products to a wider market. At the very least we should be available for advice and direction. You never know some of the energy and life within the millennials may be contagious and help you in your own company’s future.