World Economic Forum Will Showcase Confident Leaders

The crisis of the past few years may well be behind us now, so say many of the business owners and leaders who participate in the WEF (World Economic Forum) held each year. This year the non-profit Swiss foundation will hold its annual meeting from January 26 through the 30th at the eastern Alps region as usual, in Davos Switzerland. Political leaders from around the globe, along with economists, journalists, intellectuals, and top businessmen will converge to discuss world issues ranging from finances to the environment and world health. Business opportunities will grow based on confidence in the world’s future.

The world’s recent financial crisis may be a thing of the past

As the world returns to normal as far as finances and the economy goes, there is an increased feeling of high expectations for a brighter future to be found in 2011. It has been said in a survey that 2010 was the year for investing and 2011 will most likely be a pivotal year in which to make money once business CEO’s emerge from their past “bunker mentality” and regain confidence in their operations and business dealings. The global credit crunch that has been oppressing financial dealings around the world since 2008 has been showing signs of weakening the past year and 48% of the business leaders express high hopes in the future of high finance for the foreseeable future.

Asia may prove to be the driving force due to expansive growth

Emerging markets such as China and other Asian countries including India, Thailand, Paraguay, and Colombia are progressing rapidly in the world of financial development they will prove to be extremely capable of forcing the world’s economy into high gear and help bolster confidence in top leaders of the financial world, including their own. Many bosses in Western Europe show less confidence in the performance of companies of the area, although eighty percent of top leaders in Germany and Austria have high expectations and confidence that their company will perform exceptionally this year and forward. Among the most successful leaders are those who can look beyond the recession and see a brighter future ahead. Other emerging marketplaces showing high potential for rapid growth in the near future include Africa, Latin America, as well as the Middle East.

As major exporters the U.S. and Europe are less dominant than before

When Africa and Latin America increased in importance as top exporting countries for places like India, the domination of that area of trade by both U.S. and European countries weakened and they fell behind. Expanding a country’s exportation means job expansion and investment in the future of that area of the world. More jobs are expected to be created in the coming year and over half of the company bosses say they plan on increasing staff by hiring. Just a year ago that figure was only around thirty nine percent and another sixteen percent still had plans to cut some jobs.

Chief executives fret over budget deficits at the government level as well as unsettling economic levels, lack of skilled workers, and over regulation. The fact remains that much of the world has issues with shortages in many natural resources, political instability, and even the changing climate only contributes to the worries on CEO’s over burdened shoulders.

Surveys conducted conclude the world’s economy remains at risk

With rapidly growing populations raising the demand for water, energy, and food by an estimated thirty to fifty percent by the year 2030 a Global Risks for 2011 survey speculates on the success of emerging countries and states the world is not in a position to face up to new major shocks and we need to take it a bit slower to avoid further collapse of the world wide economy. The meeting this week at Davos will prove to be an interesting one this year where some two thousand top business as well as political leaders will converge.

Commodity prices often foretell the future

When prices of the “basics” soar to new heights they often display predictability when it comes to where the world’s economy is heading. Prices have risen on items such as corn (up 52%) Coffee (up 77%) and cotton (up 84%) in the past few years making for a volatility that brings out the “worry wart” in economists. As the world’s population increases there will be ever higher demand for those basics such as water, increasing by 30%, food increasing by 50%, and energy usage higher by 40% or even more.

How To Develop Leaders At All Levels

“The wicked leader is he who the people despise.

The good leader is he who the people revere.

The great leader is he of whom the people say,

‘We did it ourselves’.”

– Lao Tsu, from the Tao Te Ching

Or, as Sinclair Beecham, founder of the sandwich store group Pret a Manger, said recently, “I used to think my role as a leader was to be indispensable, with the phone always ringing, showing what a good leader I was by always being there to solve problems and fight fires. Now I know my job is to stop that phone ringing. The less it rings, the more dispensable I am, the better.”

Make leaders, not followers

You make yourself dispensable by making more leaders. The role of the leader today, says the consumer rights campaigner and occasional US presidential candidate Ralph Nader, is not to create followers, but to create more leaders.

According to Apple founder Steve Jobs, Microsoft’s powerful culture and epic growth was not down to Bill Gates’ charisma as a leader, but his ability to create ‘mini-me’ leaders who drive Microsoft forward:

“Bill has done a great job of cloning himself as the company has grown. Now there are all these aggressive ‘Little Bills’ running the various product groups and divisions, and they just keep coming at you and coming at you. They’re not afraid to stumble…”

Mike Harris, till recently executive vice-president at the European on-line bank Egg, says any attempt to drive transformational change from one leader at the top, or even a small group of leaders, is doomed to failure. “I recall when we reached a point where I just couldn’t see us moving forward with the speed we needed. The whole organization was running on my ability to generate transformational change.

The clear answer was we needed 30 or so leaders generating transformational change, not just me. Creating a cadre of leaders around you who can take the odd failure and not be cowed gives you an exponential growth in your organization’s ability to transform itself.”

Leaders everywhere

You need to go even further than that and cascade leadership to create leaders everywhere: people who take the initiative, make decisions, take calculated risks on behalf of the organization and for customers.

The key to spreading the leadership virus is not being afraid to help other people to achieve greater levels of control; not feeling threatened by their increased power or independence. Dianne Thompson, CEO of the world’s largest lottery operator, says you have to be enthusiastic about appointing people who are better than you are.

Reward viral leaders

One obvious route to encourage leadership development is to reward it. Tony Highland, a leader at Barclays Bank, began rewarding his people based on their development of the people around them. Barclays’ central development unit is looking at the possibility of replicating this model across Barclays. Tony, incidentally, is an example of an customer-focussed leader who has the ability to create a vibrant culture within a business unit that is part of a giant, fairly slow-moving, group. His secret is that he just does it. Talk to his direct reports and they tell you, reverentially, that they’ve never worked for anyone like him. “It is just so liberating”, said one.

Concerned that his large organization needed to channel its energies, Tony took to the road, asking all 2,167 people who reported, ultimately, to him, what kind of organization they wanted to work in. They all, more or less, wanted the same six things: challenge, responsibility, trust, reward, learning, and to have fun while doing it. They were then challenged to commit to behaving in those ways.

Tony also puts regular time in his diary to be out on the ‘shop floor’ at least once a month for a day, working in the front of house area of one of his banks, to soak up customer issues and observe and be part of the customer experience.

Leaders learn

John Stewart, CEO of National Australia Bank Group, told me this: “When I was CEO at the Woolwich (a mid-sized UK financial services company) I noticed, as we all do, that there are branch managers who can be put into a poorly-performing branch and turn it around to top all the league tables.

So, we got ten of these leaders together for two days to find out how they do it. Let’s see what they have in common, bottle it and spread it around the organization, I thought. Two days later, we realized it wasn’t possible. You can’t clone leadership. They all had their own leadership styles and approaches.

But, there was one thing they all had in common: they were learning from each other all the time. I watched them, and noticed that they were all writing pages and pages of notes after talking to each other. They were constantly saying ‘That’s a great idea!’ They were enthused. They were pushing forward and getting 1% better at everything all the time.

They just kept learning from each other what works and what doesn’t. Learning from the experiences of other leaders is what this generation of leaders has to do. It’s how you minimize mistakes – learning what to avoid as well as what works. What you don’t do is as important as what you do”.

At a European Conference on Customer Management a few years ago, one of the keynote speakers was Feargal Quinn, whose chain of retail supermarkets in Ireland pioneered customer innovations that supermarket chains around the world – from Wal-Mart to ASDA to Tesco – copied. Quinn wowed the audience at the conference with his morning keynote session.

Later in the afternoon, after most keynote speakers would have disappeared, there was a small figure sitting at the back of a break-out session, scribbling furiously in a notebook. It was Feargal Quinn, multi-millionaire transformational business leader and Irish senator, still learning.

Developing leaders is time-consuming. As Warren Bennis puts it, “You can’t put a person in a microwave and out pops the McLeader. It doesn’t happen like that. Leadership evolves.” That’s why Jack Welch, legendary former CEO of General Electric, spent up to forty per cent of his time developing GE’s leaders. And it’s why his successor, Jeffrey Immelt, continues to do so. How much time do you spend on it?

The Place of Entrepreneurship Competence in Business Success and National Development

The pivotal position occupied by entrepreneurship as a sustainable tool for rapid economic growth and development of a country cannot be over emphasized. This is evident in several available literatures written by scholars on the subject matter but a closer examination of these literatures show tilted emphasis and concentrations on some common areas relating to entrepreneurship.

Increasing competitions, rapid and constant changes in internal and external environment of business activities, and the significant influence of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) on the economy generally have resulted in a growing interest in studying the role of factors stimulating successful entrepreneurship, business success and national development.

Though, entrepreneurship, have played and can play more of these positive roles, is not an easy vocation as it does not always guarantee a hundred per cent triumph. There are several critical areas of knowledge and factors that must be acquired and put in place to enable entrepreneurs achieve a measure of business success and consequently contributing to national development.

Several researches have been conducted in areas of entrepreneurship competency, entrepreneurship success and national development.

Most literatures relating to entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship success tend to unquestionably argue that most entrepreneurial fiascos are essentially due to inadequate financial resources (e.g. Adeyemo and Onikoyi, 2012). Such research outcomes have no doubt influenced government policy direction in many developed and developing countries of the world through the creation of financial agencies and provision of financial resources to business units for the sole purpose of boosting and sustaining entrepreneurial development for rapid national development.

The above, policy strategy unfortunately has led to the continuous negligence on the part of the government, scholars and business operators in these countries to considering other vital factors like entrepreneurial competency which equally contributes to successful entrepreneurship, business success and national development.

The current literatures on the subject do not provide sufficient explanations to the role general and/or specific competences play in successful entrepreneurship, business success and national development. This has thus, made the relationship between entrepreneurial competence and entrepreneurship success to be important topic within organizational literatures. The above fact is evident in several available studies done by scholars on the subject matter (e.g Crook, Todd, Combs, Woehr, and Ketchen, 2011; Mitchelmore and Rowley, 2010; Inyang and Enuoh, 2009; Laguna, Wiechetek, and Talik, 2013 e.t.c).

Many of these studies identified entrepreneurship competences like communication competence, financial competence, marketing competence, business ethics competence, social responsibility competence, decision-making competence and leadership competence as catalysts to entrepreneurship success and national development. We shall be duelling on our discussion more on these entrepreneurial competences to see how they individually contribute to successful entrepreneurship, business success and national development.

As said earlier at the beginning, entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship success play strategic roles in economic growth, economic transformation and development of the society. These roles are noticeable in the numbers of jobs created, the level of wealth generated and the rate of indigenous entrepreneurship promoted in several countries around the world.

There is no doubt that government of the world have put great efforts in promoting entrepreneurship development, business success and economic development through provision of financial resources directly or otherwise through various agencies and under different terms and conditions, this fact prompt one to ask a question of high concern.

Why are there still high rate of business failure around the world? Without much thinking, the failures are due mainly to entrepreneurial incompetency of those concerned with making the daily business decisions of these businesses. Many business failures can be said to be and are largely attributed to lack of entrepreneurial competence.

Most of the businesses failed unknowingly even before there are started because of lack of one of the required competence; project evaluation and management. This does not therefore; make it surprising while entrepreneurship competence has often been identified as the missing link for successful entrepreneurship, business failure and consequently crawling national development and in some instances stalled economy. What then is entrepreneurship competence?

Before we proceed to defining and explaining entrepreneurship competence and understand the contextual meaning in which it is employed in this writing with simplicity, it will be very imperative to first and foremost comprehend what entrepreneurship is.

Entrepreneurship may be defined as the process through which something new and valuable is created through the dedication and effort of someone who takes on financial, psychological, and social risks and seeks personal satisfaction and monetary rewards (Hisrich & Peters 1986).

European Commission, (2006) defined Entrepreneurship as a dynamic and social process where individuals, alone or in collaboration, identify opportunities for innovation and act upon these by transforming ideas into practical and targeted activities, whether in a social, cultural or economic context.

Critical assessment of the above two definitions summarized the concept of entrepreneurship by stressing creation processes and performance of targeted activities. Entrepreneurship as defined above is not necessarily limited to the roles and characters of entrepreneurship involving creativity, innovation and risk taking, and most importantly, the ability to plan, manage projects and to turn ideas into action in order to achieve set objectives for successful entrepreneurship. But, it requires tact, art and competency to achieve winning edge success.

Entrepreneurship success is a multidimensional phenomenon. It includes multiple criteria of financial characters like profit maximization, revenue maximization, dividend maximization as in the case of shareholders etc., and non-financial characters for example larger share of market, customer satisfaction, perpetual enterprise existence etc. To achieve success in any of the following sections, one must be competent in his/her chosen area of enterprise.

Entrepreneur competence can therefore be defined as the cluster of related knowledge, attitudes, and skills which an entrepreneur must acquire or possess to achieve an outstanding performance and optimize the business objective(s) amidst several constraints. Every job/role has a skill and competency requirement. Every career like entrepreneurship draws on the competence of an individual. For every entrepreneurial undertaking one needs certain competencies. Entrepreneurship competence is simply the skill which an individual needs to do an allotted entrepreneurial job successfully.

Entrepreneurship competence constitutes a cluster of related knowledge, attitudes, and skills, which an individual acquires and uses together, to produce outstanding performance in any given area of entrepreneurial responsibility. Some of these competences may be general and some peculiar to the chosen areas of enterprise. We may describe competences to mean abilities and skills, for a teacher or a performing artist, for example, it is the skill to communicate that plays a decisive role in their effectiveness besides, of course, their knowledge. For a craftsman or an artist, it is the creativity and skill in the chosen craft.

In like manner, entrepreneurial competences are critical success factors required for successful entrepreneurship, business success and of course national development. The subject thus, deserves solemn attention in entrepreneurial discourse and not to be neglected. There is no substitute for entrepreneurship competence for successful entrepreneurship, not even abundant financial resources can. There is no doubt as explained, entrepreneurial competence play important role in any successful entrepreneurial activities.

The following are some of the necessary entrepreneurial competences required for successful entrepreneurship and rapid national development. We shall be discussing below 8 of the basic essential entrepreneurial competence for successful business.

1. Time Management competence: Time is an economic good; it is an economic good worthy of effective and efficient management because of it scarce nature (Dan-Abu, 2015). Time is unique, unlike any other economic resources (input) such that it has no wing but can “fly”. Time is irreplaceable and irreversible. Time lost is lost forever and can never be recovered, and by that I it includes, time lost doing insignificant things. This is why few things are more important to an entrepreneur and for successful entrepreneurship than learning how to save and spend time wisely. One major causes of entrepreneurship failure in relation to time management is doing too many things at the same time in an inefficient manner.

To achieve more and be successful in the day to day running of an enterprise, the entrepreneur must be thoroughly equipped with time management skill. Investing and practicing effective and efficient time management skill is a profitable investment for every entrepreneur, since every efficient business act is a success in itself. It therefore means that, if every single act of entrepreneurial activity is undertaken with consistent efficient one, the enterprise as a whole must be a success.

Time management involve among others practices, commitment to work contract and taking personal pains to complete a task on schedule, this will promote confidence and loyalty on your business/organization and will thus led to winning of more contracts from clients again and again; prioritizing of task based on urgency and importance in relation to a project activities and delegating of task to subordinates.

Some common time consuming activities include slow decision making, inability to delegate, unnecessary interruptions, failed appointments, delays while traveling, poorly conducted meetings, procrastination, etc.

2. Communication competence: Communication is a two-way process characterized by sending and receiving of messages through a channel between sender and receiver. This may be verbal or non-verbal for example, telephone call and procurement proposal respectively. Good communication skill is an indispensable management tool for a successful entrepreneurship. It is through communication that procurements are made, business products/services are sold, business objectives are discussed, employees are recruited etc.

Communication competence is very important to the survival and success of every organization, this is regardless of whether the organization is a profit or non-profit making, private or public enterprise, involved in provision of services or sales of products, online or offline business etc. Communication competence is so vital to successful entrepreneurship that it goes beyond inter-personal communication; of course this too is indispensable to the success of the entrepreneur’s business.

A winning communication competence in an enterprise will help in disseminating circulars, minutes, letters and memos effectively reaching every intending individual, team or unit in an organization. It also facilitates efficiency through the saving of cost involved in sending and receiving the messages on the part of both the organization and the employees. Communication competence in enterprising organizations will facilitate large turn out and compliance when meetings are called or directives are given to be followed respectively.

Communication competence in like manner can speed up the time taken to make merchandize procurement in period of high demand; this can help the concerned firm increase profit during the period of shortages and high demand.

Developing and employing good communication skill in an organization will definitely lead to two fold success; the firm will be able to benefit from internal interactions among persons, departments and units, and externally benefit from interactions between it and the business transacting partners (outside world). We can therefore say in summary that, there is no business without communication.

3. Human Resources Management Competence: The relevance of human resources management competence to successful entrepreneurship, business success and national development cannot be over stressed. Though materials and capital are of equivalent importance to the entrepreneur, they are inanimate and unemotional; they demand no understanding of human requirements and inspirations for their effective utilization unlike human resources which need good and competent human resources management skill by the entrepreneur to successfully utilize it to optimum level in productive activities.

Human resources of some enterprise are the most difficult to obtain, the most expensive to maintain and the hardest to retain. Without the acquisition and practicing of effective and efficient human resource management skills, the capital resources earlier mentioned will not be effectively used. Generally, small and medium scale enterprises often managed by an entrepreneur do not have the luxury of human resource department that can interview, hire and evaluate employees.

Most of these decisions taking regarding the above are the responsibility of the entrepreneur and perhaps one or two other key employees. This is good why human resources management competence is important for successful entrepreneurship and national development. As the firm grows, there will be need to hire new employees; entrepreneur must follow important procedures for interviewing, hiring, evaluating and preparing job description for new employees. Instituting an effective organizational culture is best implemented when an entrepreneur is competent in human resources management.

4. Marketing Management Competence: The success of every enterprise involves selling of products/services; this is largely enabled through good marketing management, it is therefore imperative for an entrepreneur to have good marketing management skills.

Ebitu (2005:196) concord, that marketing is crucial to the survival and growth of any organization. It is through marketing that revenues used for bills settlement, assets acquisition, pursuing of business diversification and expansion objectives, settlement of dividend and tax liabilities and social responsibility projects are generated. The entrepreneur in developing good marketing strategies and marketing management competence must be conversant with and employ the four marketing mix of place, promotion, price and product.

5. Adherence to Business Ethics Competence: Every business has its ethics. Ethics deals with moral ability and obligations. It can be defined as a system of rules and principles that define right and wrong, good and bad conduct and the ordering of values in undertaking business activities in society. Business ethics is sometimes called management ethics, and it is the application of ethical principles to business relationships and activities.

Business ethics is becoming a subject of intense concern for society, which is now demanding that organizations should operate responsibly and uphold very high ethical standards to improve the quality of life of the people. Entrepreneurs, in light of the above, need to be competent in dealing with different public policies, trade union’s established standards and norms and customers’ concerns for high quality work for successful entrepreneurship.

6. Financial Management Competence: Every business enterprise requires capital with which to start and continue with its operations. Capital here means two things; money (finance) needed to start and operate the business and assets representing the resources provided by owners (equity) and creditors of the business (liabilities).

Mbat (2001:3) defines financial management as the planning, organizing, directing and controlling of the firm’s financial resources. Finance is the blood at the centre of any successful business enterprise, one of the features common to successful entrepreneurs is their ability to source for funds for their enterprise. The funds mobilized internally or externally have to be properly managed to ensure that at any point in time, there is adequate funds to cater for the day to day running of the enterprise.

Most entrepreneurial failures are due to the inability of the entrepreneurs to effectively distribute and manage funds. For example, an entrepreneur needs to acquire knowledge on financial management issues like anticipation of financial needs for the enterprise, fund raising sources, cost of raising fund from external sources, acquisition of funds, allocation of funds in order to yield optimum result through identification and maintenance of correct proportion of the firm’s finances in areas of savings, insurance and investments policy of the enterprise.

The important of financial management competence to achieving entrepreneurship and business success cannot be over stressed. We have seen many at times when financially buoyant “start-ups” crumble down to pieces after successful take off because of financial management incompetence of the management, caused by tied up funds as they watch helplessly as the business dive into ocean of failure due to lack of reserve funds to successfully execute contracts or perform business operation.

Leadership Competence: leadership can be defined as the ability to influence and motivate other person or group of persons towards achieving a shared a set objective. Leadership competence is also another important single factor determining business success or failure in our competitive, turbulent, fast moving, free global market economy.

According to Ilesanmi, (2000: 187) successful entrepreneurs are successful leaders; they have power and motivate the entrepreneurial venture. The ability to produce the necessary leadership is the key determinant of achievement in all-human activities, the quality of leadership is therefore a decisive strength or weakness of any successful entrepreneurial endeavour.

Successful entrepreneurship requires creative, unique leadership qualities and personal styles. It involve seeking opportunities, initiating projects, gathering the physical, financial and human resources needed to carry out projects, setting goals for self and others, directing and guiding others to accomplish goals. Effective leadership is therefore a powerful tool required for successful entrepreneurship, business success and national development. Good leadership competence helps an entrepreneur to turn his/her business vision into reality.

7. Social Responsibility Competence: The establishment of every business enterprise is backed up by the profit motive. It is the profit that drives entrepreneurs to starting businesses, motivate shareholders into buying shares and private capital owners into investing their capital in a company. The profit motive though leads to the production of goods and services; the entrepreneur’s business venture also has the responsibility to embark on certain projects within and outside its operating environment as part of its social obligations.

Businesses should not only be concerned about the quality of goods and services they produce to generate profit but must also pursue policies that sell their enterprises by contributing to the quality of life in their operational environment. The business operators have responsibility to protect and improve society. Their actions during production and marketing should not in any way endanger the community or society. Entrepreneur can earn more profit by displaying high degree of corporate responsiveness, which is the ability of an organization to relate its operations and policies to the environment in ways that are mutually beneficial to the organization and the society.

The entrepreneur for example needs to make contribution to community development, product safety, employment generation, ethical business practices, and contribution towards educational activities in the community of operation. An enterprise for example can award scholarships to students, create opportunity for apprenticeship training and so on. Undertaking some of these social responsibilities may endear the entrepreneur’s enterprise to its host community; enhance his image and social standing, and consequently contributing significantly to his business success.

8. Decision making Competence: Decision making is very important to the success of an entrepreneur, this skill is at the core of every successful entrepreneurial activities. Decision making is the process of selecting a line of action from available alternatives. This selection process may be very difficult especially when the available alternatives are numerous or the decisions to be made or chosen from are risky ones.

Many potential entrepreneurs have difficulties in bringing their ideas to the market and creating a new business because making a decision is one thing and making the right decision in a given circumstance is another. The actual making of effective entrepreneurial decisions has resulted in several new businesses being started throughout the world by those having this decision making skill necessary for successful entrepreneurship.

An entrepreneur makes decision on a daily basis and therefore has to acquire adequate knowledge and skills in decision making to enable him/her make the right decisions.

Most of the entrepreneurial competences have been studied in isolation and with little effort to recognizing their mutual relationships to entrepreneurship success and business success. In a study aimed at explaining entrepreneurial competences in order to rank them according to the level of their importance to successful entrepreneurship by Edgar, Dirk and Danny, (2005) shows that, entrepreneurs on one hand considered decision making the most important competence while scholars in their different writings are in support of identifying business opportunities competence as the most important when embarking on an entrepreneurial venture.

In another study aimed at explaining how general and specific managerial competencies relate to the business success of small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) by Laguna, Wiechetek, and Talik, (2013) proved that general and specific managerial competency is significant predictor of success in running a business. They further stated that specific managerial competency demonstrated to be a mediator between general competence and Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) success.

In a similar study conducted by Rosária de Fatima Segger Macri Russo and Roberto Sbragia, (2010) who opined that the operational responsibilities of a project manager (planning and controlling) are in stark contrast to the characteristics of an entrepreneur. In light of the above contradictory viewpoint, their research which was directed at assessing whether managers showing entrepreneurial characteristics are associated with more successful projects or not found within their study sample an empirical evidence supported their hypothesis that the possibility of a given project having a successful outcome increases with the enterprising tendency of its manager.

After critically examining the necessary entrepreneurial competences required for successful entrepreneurship, business success and rapid national development. It will be important to quickly add here that no single or sets of entrepreneurship competence are more important to the other. It is only through the combination of the competences that an entrepreneur can achieve maximum business success.

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Business Water Bill Audits Set to Become a Requirement

Due to the ever increasing global demands for water, The Carbon Trust has launched a scheme to tackle the issue. The trust is introducing an international standard on water reduction in an effort to encourage businesses to use this finite resource more sustainably. This new standard will require firms to measure water use and demonstrate that they are taking action to reduce consumption.

At present two thirds of European cities are using water at a greater rate than it can be replenished. Around a quarter of this is for business purposes, with the majority being for agricultural use. As an finite resource, it is vital that efficient water use becomes a priority for business leaders. The new Standard proposes a significant cost penalty for water use, so it is in the interest of the business to implement changes.

The standard follows a European Environment Agency report in March 2012, which stated that annual reactionary hosepipe ban was not sufficient for managing our valuable water supplies. It recommended that long term investment was necessary to encourage behavioural change in order to protect Europe’s limited water resources.

To be awarded the ‘Carbon Trust Water standard’ businesses will need to provide annual evidence that they are reducing their water use. Consideration will be paid to various supplies, including: mains, surface water abstraction, ground water and rainwater collection. The standard will also monitor trade effluent, as this needs to be licensed and carefully managed.

The Carbon Trust traditionally measures energy use and carbon footprints, but have focused their attentions on water because of increased global issues relating to water scarcity and the potentially threat to global fresh water supplies. If we continue to follow the current trends, the demand will significantly outweigh supply by 2030.

The Trust states that by measuring and managing water use, most businesses could easily reduce use without any impact on their business processes. If you are interested in how your business can start to make the changes, we recommend a business water bill audit. This will monitor water use and identify measures to use water more efficiently, so that you can lower your usage.

Whilst this may seem like yet another thing for businesses to deal with at a difficult economic time, there is another more immediate benefit. Greater water efficiency and reduced water use will lower your business water bill. Where significant reductions can be made, this can lead to increased profit margins, which is exactly what every business could do with right now.