Change may be painful but it happens to make things better, says Mike Smith, director at Grown-Up Solutions.
Brexit. It’s not just a term, it’s a thing. It’s a movement, a belief, a challenge, an opportunity. It is also definitely happening.
Exactly what it means for our industry, and for the country as a whole, will become clear over the coming months. I personally believe we will prosper. Yes, there will be some short-term pain. Yes, there will be some political mudslinging. But we can do this. We will do this. We will be better, stronger, more competitive, more prosperous, and more influential.
We are leaving the EU, not Europe. What the EU forgets is that there is another market out there. It’s called the Rest Of The World. It’s bigger than the EU, it’s been around for longer and it’s growing faster. I run a micro business based in the UK, because this is where I choose to live and because I believe it’s a great place for business. We export. In the last two years we’ve worked in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan. We are currently discussing projects in China, Qatar and the USA. None of those places are in the EU.
The important thing is that we don’t talk ourselves into a crisis. This isn’t immediate, it’s not an instant exit; it’s the beginning of a period of change that will last for years. Any change is painful but remember that the whole point of it is to make things better.
My top tips for surviving and thriving during Brexit are:
1. Don’t panic. Nothing has changed in the short term, and won’t in the immediate future. All our existing trade agreements are still in place; we are not going to get an emergency Brexit budget. Business as usual is the way to go for the time being.
2. Reassure your team. We are not going to ban migrants; no one is going to be sent home. If you have family and friends living outside the UK, in the EU or anywhere else, they likewise are not going to be forcibly repatriated.
3. If you export goods or services, you’ve got a lot cheaper since the referendum. Make the most of it. Remind your international clients what you can do for them and what you charge. You are currently able to offer them a serious bargain.
4. If you import, you have been affected by the fall in sterling. Talk to your bank or currency exchange service. Most banks offer foreign currency accounts to their business account holders and also offer forward exchange contracts at fixed rates, often beating ad hoc deals.
5. Look outside the EU. We live in a world of increasing globalisation and there is a whole world out there. If you already import or export you are half way there. If you don’t then maybe this is a good time to start.
6. Don’t forget about domestic clients and suppliers. Whatever happens, a pound is still worth a pound in the UK. Review your client and supplier lists; you may be able to get a better deal or offer a more competitive service if you focus some attention on the UK market.
7. Take this opportunity to review your business plan. Does Brexit actually affect you? If not, good. If so, how? Can you turn any uncertainty into opportunity?
Our industry constantly adapts to find new ways to attract, engage and entertain our clients. It’s what we do. Uncertainty and negativity are the biggest challenges we face at the moment so let’s be positive, let’s adapt and let’s seize the opportunity to get our own house in order and make sure we are best placed to thrive, whatever happens next.