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 Brexit. You can get READY!
R - Risk Register
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.
E - Eliminate Waste
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.
A - Advice
Have you taken Brexit advice? You should have, but it’s 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 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.
D - 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 to mitigate the impact of decisions and changes that go against the plan A that we’re currently working to.
Y - Your Partners
And finally, you’ve created and maintained a risk register, you’re lean and fit, you’ve taken good bespoke advice, and you’ve got plans set out. 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 certainly marks a change in our relationship with the EU as we know it, but it is also the beginning of a new relationship Europe and with a variety of countries and regions. Brexit doesn’t have to mean the end of your business. With proper preparation, and through getting READY, your business can survive and thrive, and continue to deliver its service or product for many years to come. If you don't have a Brexit plan, or you’re not sure how to even start, don’t worry, you're not alone, get in touch with NI Chamber to understand your next steps.
Robert McConnell, NI Chamber