Brexit is causing uncertainty in all areas of business. But is it all bad? Ashley Carr, Managing Director of Neo PR looks at the steps business owners need to take if they are to weather the storm that is Brexit.
Since that fateful day in June 2016, business life in the UK has been turned upside down, leaving many organisations in a holding pattern while they wait to see what’s to come after the storm.
In times such as these, it is often the instincts of Financial Directors to batten down the hatches; halt spending on marketing, PR or any form of comms activity and wait out the uncertainty. Now, while that decision may appear logical at first glance, slowing down investment in the promotion of your company, means dimming the light of your business to the outside world – a world which all UK businesses need now more than ever to be seen by.
As we edge closer to the final stages, whatever the result may look like, now is the most critical time for your business to be setting up for the turbulence caused by Brexit. This means putting measures in place and creating a stronghold that ensures your organisation can not only ride out this storm, but any future storms to come.
What we face now may be the greatest test that businesses will encounter, to show that they are here to stay – or not. Darwin’s theory of ‘survival of the fittest’ rings as true here as it does in the natural world.
What can we expect when the dust settles? This uncertainty will end, and the upturn will come quick, but who will be there to fuel the growth?
People are your power
When it comes to recessions, one thing is always certain: growth, post-recession, is high, and it comes rapidly. Now, of course, we aren’t actually in a recession as we still have full employment in the UK. But think about that fact for a moment. If we have full employment in the UK, where are all the skilled employees that will meet the demands of your business when the upturn comes? Unlike in a recession, there are not talented people sitting at home, upskilling on their own time, waiting for the market to improve. The talented people you will need for post-Brexit growth are currently in employment, maybe in your company, biding their time for better opportunities to come.
Amidst the uncertainty caused by Brexit, highly skilled employees have been stagnating; salary increases have been low, and opportunities for progress have been put on hold. These people will move when the market picks up. Do you want to be the victim of job swapping? Or do you want to be the beneficiary?
Waking up to the global world
While some businesses have been stagnating, the forward thinkers have been setting their sights on the global stage. If the walls go up around Europe, can your business afford to rely solely on customers at home?
It’s time to accept that our relationship with Europe caused many UK businesses to become lazy. With an open market on our doorstep, we took access for granted and fell asleep when the rest of the world was looking further abroad. We had a large market to trade with and access to talent from across the EU, but all that could soon be gone.
You could argue that it’s cary and complicated to market your business globally, but the global market is there, you need it, and it is actually not as hard to access as you may think, regardless of what business you’re in.
May the best strategy win
Whether you’re currently procrastinating or putting plans in place for the end of uncertainty, it is now (right now!) critical for you to invest in the strategies that will set you up for the future. In times like these, you need to try something different to get heard above the background noise. Standing still will leave you exposed and undesirable when the market shifts. The winners in the upturn will be those with a fresh approach and a laser-like focus on the people and markets they need to appeal to when the rapid growth hits.
Invest in your people
The businesses who continue to invest in growing their organisation — including recruiting, creating a strong culture, and working to acquire new business — will be the ones that survive. You can’t have people sitting on the bench. Invest in the staff you have, right now, and work on communications strategies that will appeal to the people you want when business picks up.
Appeal to the world
I agree when businesses explain how hard it is to implement marketing strategies on the global stage. Marketing is tough, yes, but business leaders need to take advantage of the global reach of communications; it transcends language and is the fastest way to get known on the worldwide stage, ensuring the barriers to come can be easily stepped over.
Think of Brexit as your reality check. It’s time to expand into other markets. You need to be shouting at a global audience, not just the UK. The time is now to invest in attracting the people that will help drive the growth to come. Think long and hard about your employer appeal and trade appeal. Do this, and you can put your business on the map, giving you a distinct advantage against your competitors that got stuck sitting on their hands.
Brexit will be the ultimate test for UK businesses to show if they’re set up to succeed or destined to fail. What will your next steps be?
By Ashley Carr