Brexit preparation guidance by Pinnacle Director Robert McConnell
At the time of writing, we are 24 hours away from the crucial commons vote on Theresa May’s Brexit Transition deal (last minute edit - are we/ aren’t we? - it looks like the vote could be delayed). The people of the United Kingdom are almost evenly split on whether brexit is the best thing ever, or the worst thing ever; but almost everyone will admit that there is uncertainty ahead for the country, the government, business and individuals.
Fear. Uncertainty. Risk. Excitement? Just some of the words we might associate with the whole process at this time. But how often do we hear or admit to those sentiments in our business lives. If you’re like me, you have regular worries and concerns for your business. You will plan and scheme and work and endeavour to ensure that risk is minimised and that your journey is more certain. We’ve heard it a thousand times over the past 30 or so months, but business craves and needs certainty. Encouragement to plan for Brexit has also been a regular theme. When I recently met with the House of Commons BEIS Select Committee in Belfast, they were strongly advocating planning and preparation for the business community.
So, whether you’re a leaver, a remainer, or an inbetweener, if you own or run a business then what can you do now to get ready for March 2019. You can get READY! (everyone loves an acronym, right?!)
Ok. Put your hand up if you just switched off, shame on you… We all avoid activities like creating or updating a risk register; but a good, honest and complete risk register is crucial to identifying, and mitigating risks threatening the success of your business. This doesn’t need to be a very formal and well formatted database document but can in fact be whiteboard or flipchart notes developed by the directors, with input from a variety of stakeholders, quickly identifying threats and risks.
Do you trade in foreign currency? Is your supply chain affected? Do you rely on foreign labour? Are you an exporter? These are just some of the questions you might ask in order to develop a strong list of risks to be managed. Keep your register up to date and never bury your head in the sand – it will only delay the requirement to do the work and will put your business at risk.
A key building block of good lean management is to eliminate waste from processes. Very often the focus is on factory floor process waste, and on material wastage in manufacturing. However, as businesses we often get wasteful. Perhaps you have lost sight of gross or nett profit KPI’s, non-value-added work is increasing and spend is creeping up all the time with no reason or reflection in sales?
When we start our businesses, we are super lean and fighting fit and avoid spending a penny unless we really must. However, over time we become slightly more wasteful with our time, with our money and we lose sight of the challenging goals we once aspired to. Now is the time to squeeze that waste out of the system; to up the efforts on billable hours, to increase the customer base, to challenge the effectiveness and efficiency of your staff, your processes, yourself.
Have you taken Brexit advice? You should have, but its not too late to seek expert advice specific to your business. Sometimes we get so close to our own business that we can’t appreciate the macro economic climate, and its effect on our strategy and impact. Fresh eyes can sometimes spot major opportunities for your business, as well as present an unvarnished view of the risks on the radar for your operations.
Intertrade Ireland still offer a “Start-to-plan” voucher worth £2000 inc VAT available to eligible business for the purposes of engaging external advice on Brexit. This can be around strategy, supply chain, customs, tax and finance, and can also include training. Providers like Pinnacle can work with you on-site to quickly determine and report on some options and strategies for you and your business and can provide that independent advice that is so important.
Develop a plan A, B and C
You might have heard of Plan B, the hip hop recording artist, actor, film director and producer who has enjoyed a lot of success over the past 12 years. His opening lyrics in “I know a song”, “We used to get on fine, Once upon a time” might seem very apt for Brexit…
But his stage name reminds us that we need a plan B, and perhaps even a plan C for our businesses. It is not simply good enough to keep our heads down, to mind our own business, and to hope it’ll all be ok. As Directors it is our legal responsibility to act in the best interest of the company we are appointed to, and that means planning and developing scenarios and circumstances that ensure our businesses can react to and survive the impact of Brexit. It could mean developing new products, new processes or enacting new procedures so as to mitigate the impact of decisions and changes that go against the plan A that we’re currently working to.
And finally… you’ve created and maintained a risk register, you’re lean and fitter than a butchers dog, you’ve taken good bespoke advice, and you’ve got more plans set out than a chess Grandmaster. But you don’t need to go this alone.
Good business means good partnerships and collaborations, and especially when there is uncertainty, partnerships with experts in their field makes sense. Suppliers and collaborators will be happy to share risk and reward with you to ensure you are successful. It’s not late to partner with some good people and firms to support you at this stage. Professional Services, supply chain, assets, finance, materials, experts… if it’s not your core strength and it can be delivered more efficiently, delivering you more profit without the risk, then now is the time to partner with a trusted provider.
Brexit planning is just one of the many areas in which Pinnacle can help support your business. For more information contact Pinnacle at firstname.lastname@example.org or read more about our full range of services HERE.