Prepare your Business for Brexit Uncertainty

Posted by Robin at 11:14 AM on Jun 28, 2016

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These are amongst the most uncertain of times. Brexit has, probably much more than the most ardent Brexit supporter might have anticipated, created economic shockwaves for our country the likes of which we have not seen since the credit crunch of 2008. The political classes and the markets are in turmoil so what can you do, other than burying your head in the sand, to give your business the best chance of survival through these times.

Knee Jerks not Welcome

First things, first. These are still very early days. Whilst the markets have taken fright that doesn't mean that the economy will automatically follow downwards. What is likely is that, right now, we are going to see a slow down in economic activity - people are simply going to slow up their buying because we don't know how long the money is going to last if things get much worse. People are taking stock. This means that we should expect to see a hopefully very temporary reduction in orders coming through the door.

Right now is not the time for cuts. Reducing your ability to deal with, what has been, your regular level of business will see your business struggle to compete should this wobble be a very temporary one - and there is not an insignificant chance that this is the case.

If you find that you have capacity in your people then now might be a good time to start some serious contingency planning and even to look at what new market opportunities might be arising as a consequence of the crisis. Using your people across all the levels of your business to support this could see their lost capacity turned to a very constructive purpose that will help your business survive and even flourish. We'll look at some of the things that you could be doing a bit further on.

Employment Law isn't Changing Today (Or anytime soon)

As things stand the employment law environment we have today is the same one we had last week. Nothing legal has changed with the referendum (NOTHING!) and this means that you have all the same responsibilities in place that that you had last week. It is possible that in the years to come there will be adjustments but that will depend on a whole lot of events taking place in-between. It is not inconceivable that with a Single Market solution nothing at all will change (which is a bit strange given the pain we're experiencing to get there).

People Planning Priorities

  1. Understand your market - you know your business better than anyone else therefore you're best placed to anticipate what might happen. Talk to your competitors and suppliers to gain their insight.
  2. Increase your communications - now is the time to increase comms rather than hiding in your office. Be more present, talk to more people, show you care, share your thinking. You might not have answers but by showing that you are listening you will help to steady your ship.
  3. Keep an eye on morale - people are scared and being scared can impact your business. Tapping into how people are feeling will give you the insight you need to deal with issues as they arise.
  4. Contingency Planning - what would happen if your market shrank by 10%, 20%, etc.,; what skills will have capacity?; can that capacity be applied to new or different spaces so that you retain core business understanding?
  5. Identify new Skill Requirements - what skills might be valuable to the new market conditions? It might not be an obvious option but those that can adapt the fastest have the best chance of success - be ready to spot market opportunities and to fill them with the best people. Even better if you can cross train people that you have in your business today you will retain that gold of people who know your business well.

Keep Calm and Carry On

To quote a much over used trope, it is critical now more than ever to keep calm and carry on. No knee jerks, no dramatic pronouncements, keep a close eye on things, divert resources where you can and give people the support they need for a stable environment. As matters evolve we'll all have a clear(er) view of what we need to be doing to adjust to the new world order - keep your head but, more importantly, keep it out of the sand!

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