Posted 17 February
Following the success of guest speakers Nicholas Saphir, Chair of AHDB, John Shropshire OBE, Chairman of G’s Fresh, and James Russell, President of the British Veterinary Association during the autumn term, Harper Adams’ New Horizons lecture series recommenced in January by welcoming Anna Price, Director and Co-founder of the Rural Business Awards. The aim of the New Horizons lecture series is to inspire and challenge students and staff to look beyond the current Covid-19 crisis and to identify opportunities for the future.
Harper Adams University is a keen supporter of the Rural Business Awards, and staff members Becky Payne and Jane Headley have previously participated on judging panels. Former student and Entrepreneur in Residence, Zoe Harrison, is also no stranger to the awards having won the Best Rural Food and Drink Business category in the 2019/20 Rural Business Awards with her business ‘Butterbelle’.
Anna was able to discuss strategy and marketing for business success, explaining the challenges she overcame with ADHD and how this impacted on her career choices, together with the more recent challenges of balancing the demands of family life with the pandemic.
Recognising her creative and innovative nature, Anna developed her career to utilise these strengths, whilst identifying the important role of business partners and mentors in ensuring a balance of skills within a business.
Discussing the impact of Covid-19, Anna highlighted how it has demonstrated that it is possible to work from almost anywhere and, as a result, people are now working from locations that previously were not even considered. Digital connectivity has been at the forefront, and this has been of significant benefit to rural businesses as they have increasingly utilised digital methods for promoting awareness of their business and growing their market. Small businesses have been innovative in meeting customer demand during the pandemic with local suppliers embracing local providers in rural communities, including the emergence of pop up shops. Anna shared her hopes that this would result in a sustained change in how we work, shop and interact within rural communities.
Anna talked about the impact of the pandemic on her own business. As an events business they were forced to take the awards programme 100% online which they found made it more accessible, particularly to rural communities. This in turn created a new business model with which to create opportunities to engage with people.
Anna provided helpful advice on starting a business and identifying sources of funding. The critical importance of financial modelling to back up the business was highlighted as well as the importance of having a strategy to provide a roadmap of where you want to get to.
Following a question from the Vice-Chancellor about the Rural Business Awards relationship with Amazon, Anna explained how business sponsorship with Amazon arose and provided examples of how small rural businesses can gain access to its global marketplace and stock management systems.
The New Horizons lecture series continues this term where we look forward to contributions from: