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Friday
Aug032012

A 92 year return on investment

by Jacob Aldridge

Poor David Cameron. The first Olympic event he attends is the men's synchronised diving - so even at the Games, he can't avoid a Double Dip!

Puns aside, linking the Olympics and the Economy is a popular topic, almost from the moment a city decides to bid for the rights to host. Mr Cameron has suggested the economic boost from these Olympics to the UK economy will be in the order of £13 Billion - even using those optimistic numbers, most economists scoff at suggestions that an Olympics could even come close to breaking even.

But both these responses - the optimisim and the scoffing - recognise that only the most short term and directly-linked benefits can possibly be measured. Intangibles and long-term benefits are guesstimates at best, but they are part of the equation.

Take me and my beautiful wife, for example. We recently spent an evening in Antwerp, Belgium as part of a trip around that country. Antwerp was selected solely because it was an Olympic Host City.

In 1920.

The 1920 Olympics were hardly a paradigm of fiscal success. So soon after the end of World War I, it's estimated they lost the (already struggling) Belgian economy some 600 million francs.

But those figures don't include the 20,000 francs (albeit spent as Euros) we invested in their economy some 92 years later, solely because of the Games. Or others like us who boosted Antwerp's coffers, in whole or in part, because of the intangible recognition linked to the Olympics.

My intention isn't to belabour my intention to visit every host city of the Summer Olympics (9 down, 4 more booked in 2012, and 10 to go). Some of those - Stockholm, Barcelona - I would visit regardless. Antwerp is an exception - solely chosen based on the long-ago decision made by IOC officials.

Rather, I want to connect the current excitement to the the long term thinking that is so difficult for businesses during a recession. When times are good it's easy to feel growth will continue for decades - and that's a risk. But for the past 5 years so many entrepreneurs have felt forced to act only in the short-term for immediate, direct benefit.

Don't ignore the short term uplift - if there's a £13 Billion opportunity for your business in the next fortnight, take it. As we head away from the double dip, those entrepreneurs who are thinking for the longer term will benefit most.

And recognise that some of those benefits won't be obvious immediately. Intangibles, like the off balance sheet assets that boost a business's valuation, are among the most valuable returns you will achieve.

Have you spoken with a Shirlaws coach about the opportunities that exist for you right now?

 

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