On the eve of the 8th Rugby World Cup, where favourites New Zealand look to make it back to back wins, now is the time to have a look at whether this iconic event will have a positive or negative impact on our small businesses throughout the UK. With the tournament running for 6 weeks, at 13 stadiums across England and Wales, it is clear to see that there will be plenty of potential coverage and connection with a range of small businesses. In order to grasp the potential financial benefits to the UK economy from this tournament you only have to take a short trip to the Rugby World Cup site and have a brief scan of their Economic Impact Study figures:
- Tournament predicted to generate up to £2.2 billion of output into economy
- Expected to add up to £982 million of value to national GDP
- More international visitors expected than any other Rugby World Cup
- £85 million invested in infrastructure
- 41,000 jobs to be supported around the country
These figures may seem completely alien and far-fetched but having hosted the Rugby World Cup in 2001 New Zealand saw an overall economic impact of NZ$1.73 billion throughout the country. Obviously all small businesses throughout the UK would love to tap into this lucrative pot of potential money and benefits but may be apprehensive and unsure of how to do so. The thing they must do is recognise the word POTENTIAL! This potential business is not given, it is there to be taken and in order to do so small businesses should be proactive and supportive of the tournament. It is important to recognise that it is not just sporting businesses that can benefit the most out of this opportunity. Businesses must find their niche and importantly recognise how they can best use this international tournament to publicise and enhance that unique niche. For example, a business could use the multinational element of the Rugby World Cup to enhance awareness of new international trade links they have recently created or publicise potential benefits/activities to those poor partners who will be stranded whilst their other half in engrossed in a match. By finding and using that niche small businesses have a greater chance of benefitting from greater business and the subsequent financial profit.
Despite the draw of financial gains there are other clear benefits for small businesses as a result of the tournament. A potential growth of business partners/connections, who may not initially seem an obvious association, may result from other businesses also attempting to enhance their profile from the tournament. The sheer volume of additional visitors, expected to be nearly 500,000, will undoubtedly see small businesses benefit on a day to day basis from increased footfall and turnover. With this being the most important rugby tournament and it only happening every 4 years all eyes will be on the UK and not just their rugby teams. International interest will flood the UK for at least 6 weeks meaning that the pool of potential investors, business collaborations and trade could greatly improve. If England progress well then the UK could see a significant knock on effect as was seen when they won in 2003, prolonging the buzz and benefits from the tournament.
Even though there are clear benefits that will come with the Rugby World Cup to small businesses and the UK economy there could be some potential drawbacks. What if a small business is not located in or near to one of the hosting cities? Will this mean they won’t benefit from the increased footfall? If a small business has recognised the potential financial and development benefits of the World Cup surely larger more powerful companies will have too. Will that mean these larger businesses will monopolise all potential benefits, leaving small businesses fighting a losing battle to be heard and seen?
Despite all the above points it still comes down to that word POTENTIAL. Can small businesses lock into that potential pool of benefits? Is there anything out there that can enable them to do so and if so where?
We asked some of JournoLink's business how it will effect them;
Business Name: Forum of Private Business
Name: Ian Cass
Response: "If used correctly the Rugby World Cup can be a tremendous asset to small firms. With a bit of targeting they can make connections and build up trust with potential customers as this is an opportunity for discovering common ground.
The game is also a great analogy for business – more often than not the team that wins has the most effective pack.
There are potential issues with absence management, even though small firms suffer from this less than larger companies. Companies should make sure that they have the relevant documentation in place and remind their staff of obligations to the company – not always an easy conversation but good communication is important to stop the odd member of staff taking liberties. For our members the Forum is here to help with this and there is no need not to enjoy the world cup. Having a good buzz in the office improves productivity and that is why we have had a sweepstake with a bottle of Hunters Gin going to the winner."
Business Name: Deliamo
Name: John Fretwell
Response: "Our range of world beers and love of rugby prompted us to create a ‘Rugby World Cup Mixed Case of Beers’ with beers from most of the competing nations and an official stress ball.
Since its launch a couple of weeks ago it has become one of our fastest selling cases to date. As well as this case we are selling a lot of other Rugby World Cup related food and drink.
Reasons for this (as well as beer and rugby having always gone well together) include:
· Individuals and businesses are hosting World Cup themed parties (we have had businesses that want to serve the beers of nations playing on a specific day)
· Many of our orders are for gifts and thank yous – if the recipient likes rugby then sending rugby related products makes the present extra special
· Customers like trying different tastes from different places – the Rugby World Cup brings together nations that normally don’t get much press coverage and people take the opportunity to try their products
· It took us a while to source beers from some of the nations and many customers have said they struggled to get many of these products – the event and the excitement it is generating has made the extra work worthwhile"
Business Name: Yomdel
Name: Andy Soloman
Response: "Simply put, the Rugby World Cup is a fantastic opportunity for us. The rugby community is stuffed full of people in business who want to help each other, a real gold mine of “Go-Givers". As a Trusted Supplier within the Rugby Business Network we are able to access decision makers in companies across the UK and abroad. The World Cup means there are loads of networking and other social events going on and as such we can put ourselves at the centre. New relationships, supported by a common love of rugby, will see us pick up significant new business opportunities."