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Brexit brings clarity

Fair or unfair, Brexit is coming…

The good thing is that Brexit brings a lot of certainties to the business world.

If you are the biggest fish in your pond, it is time to get up to speed as the pond is about to become bigger. If exports affect you, then you need to work towards fitting your business in the global context.

It also means that you might have to refocus your business in the light of your context:

  • not all contracts are created equal. Focus on those that will enhance your market share;

  • consider entering in a consortium as a mean to grow. When someone seeks a specific solution, highlight the fact that their problem is not articulated properly, bring them to the valley of death and propose your consortium-based solution.

It makes more than ever sense to focus on disrupting the market as your market is about to be disrupted;

  • consumer feedback is key;

  • unhappy consumers are king;

  • problems are gold-dust.

They will all promote innovation (seek out the problems and you shall discover your future).

Of course, now that you must innovate, you will need to get up to speed with agile management systems.

So the world is changing but the challenges ‘out there’ are going to get more interesting. Reduce their impact by ensuring that you have dealt with all your challenges ‘in-here’. Your business plan will give you a strategic direction. Remember, the business plan is more what you’d call ‘guidelines’ than actual plan. Build in disruption capacity. If you do not understand the Agile concept, then building 'disruption capacity' will remain a poorly understood expression.

Your staffing setup will decide whether you have any chance of growth:

  • Do you have your R&Rs sorted?

  • Are you using a coherent change management structure to leverage the power of your team or are they siloed individuals?

  • Your perception of where your business is and where it actually is are probably very different places. This is normal because you are busy you do not have time to reflect. It is dangerous to proceed when the ground is uneven though...

Now is probably the time to learn another language. And it is not the one you think. Learn the language of Quality:

  • Accreditation and badge of honours sourced in the UK often have an incredible value as a marketing tool abroad.

  • The word ‘British’ is an easy accreditation to get.

  • ISO 9001 is an international passport.

Of course, the need to take effective decisions quickly and securely will be more important than ever. Get your BI up to speed:

  • Data facts about your business are your passport to being listened to. Demonstrate good big numbers and people will find a way to communicate (Unless they are French or Australian).

Learn to talk distributor rather than physical presence. If you are going for physical presence, get advice from Business Wales or the chamber of Commerce. This could be the biggest mistake you make. If, when you mean physical presence, you mean moving your production facility to Europe, your are committing yourself to a specific business plan with a clear cut-off date. Commit and crack on but do not leave your brains behind.

Consider the ForEx fundamentals:

  • Spot paying is about reducing your margins.

  • Consider forwarding contracts

  • If you cannot forward contracts, ask to be paid in Sterling. This is not customer friendly but it moves the risk to them if it is a long term contract.

If you already are a global player and rely on adding value to raw material, your supply chain management is about to get disrupted (well, it probably already has):

  • You will be considered as a risk so expect the price of your raw materials to rise.

  • As you are already on the defensive, your existing providers will push their margins knowing that you will only jump the boat when the musicians start to re-arrange the chairs.

It is time to diversify your sources:

  • diversify geographically and identify new markets. Sometimes, 90% of a small market is better than an unsustainable (because of the competition) 2% of a huge market (market share again…);

  • not all contracts are created equal. These winds of change will shake the business trees and will make it easier for you to identify the pivot contract. This is the contract that will push you out of your comfort zone, will probably need you to work with others and has the potential of pivoting your company into another orbit.

Finally, if you are considering that Brexit will have no impact on your business it is because you know the following facts:

  • Europe sells more to us than we do to them so they will make a deal.

  • Maybe but Europe is not a country. It is loads of countries. Each country does not sell that much to the UK. And as Europe is actually democratic, individual countries’ agenda will drive the deal (funny that really).

  • The European project is what drives politicians. The far right might take over everywhere eventually but that will not happen during the Brexit negotiations. So the European project is priority number 1.

  • Brexit represents a direct threat or not a priority.

  • We are going to make a deal with the US:

  • Yes we are. We are going to access the US market and we are going to be so competitive we will successfully compete with local companies.

  • The US companies will of course refrain from doing the same thing here.

Bottom line. If you are in for a kicking:

  • make sure it is at least not self-inflicted;

  • look-up and around, get your people's’ brains together and use their innovative drive;

  • Accept that your business is about to change, get the right people in the right places and... crack on.


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