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Chamber Chat with Daniel Barry

2023 has been a year of challenges, but what better time to enter the dragon.

I wanted to sign off 2023 with how I am often described by a few folks and most of the time by my business partner – full of optimism. In speaking to many clients, associate businesses and in my time attending events and networking this year, it is apparent that it has been an extremely challenging year – a consensus especially felt across the micro, small, and medium sized business communities. 2023 posed a lot of promise, but delivery of promise and conversion rate has been slower, and much harder than previous times.

We are undoubtedly, a crew and passengers of a very unsteady ship which has had many captains, some more capable than others, navigating through very stormy seas. The UK as a whole right now, needs to experience some stability, and have clear directions to provide market confidence – which affects every business and individual.

So why am I optimistic?

Whilst 2023 has seen a downturn across many sectors, it’s also been a year of many conversations, plans, diversification, and specifically in Morecambe and Lancaster – a show of resilience. When I attend talks on resilience in projects and supply chain, I have come to learn the tools used to plan for economic downturns or issues that affect the launch, budget, or business confidence of a project. This knowledge has become part of our own experience and toolkit in practice at North Star when we work on delivering projects, deploying these strategies, and helping businesses throughout 2023. But I have also seen something even better – businesses in and around Morecambe and Lancaster developing their own toolkits to flourish in the face of adversity.

I have had the joy of watching a coffee roastery take their next steps and launch a café. Celebrated a long-time one-man band fully launch a business connecting tech companies and individuals of Lancashire. I was surprised and delighted when a single person market crafter, acquired a prime spot in Lancasters high street as a permanent shop. Closer to home, as a company who have diversified ourselves with our sister company and opened a once shut pub in Caton (The Ship Inn), I have watched 10 or more brand new bars, restaurants and cafes open right here in Morecambe and Lancaster.

North Star (apart from the aforementioned), continue to evolve and find new ways to use the same skillsets in new areas. We shrunk our resource and then regrew it in a different direction, and we continue to export services to new and interesting parts of the world. We are working on delivering a new supply chain and warehouse in Vietnam for a high-end UK fashion brand. We are also project managing a few local projects which are exciting for the area including new buildings and refurbishments of historic landmark locations.

Plenty of these launches and changes, were by design and organic growth. Plenty were because of self-confidence, belief and diversifying rather than succumbing to being stagnant. I firmly believe 2024 will hold even bigger and brighter things. The businesses started will go from strength to strength and those seeing a harder year than normal will see light in the new year because of the attitude, the plans and conversations made and held, and because in 2023 they were resilient.

As Harriet Beecher Stowe once said ‘Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn’.

Dan Barry is Director and Co-FounderDirector and Co-Founder  of North Star Projects. He is also a Director of the Chamber. North Star are Chamber Ambassadors.