Alan Alda, US actor of M*A*S*H and The West Wing fame, had a personal motto: “don’t get the dog stuffed”.
This was somewhat a quizzical personal shorthand to remind him to avoid getting too settled into, or, comfortable with, a routine and to seek out uncertainty at every turn.
Whatever your feelings about dogs and taxidermy, or slow burn political dramas for that matter, in the next couple of years businesses won’t have to worry about seeking out uncertainty – because it is already hot on their trail.
I am, of course, referring to Brexit.
The UK is about to embark on its biggest set of post war negotiations with its largest trading partner – at a pace that will make traditional international negotiations look positively pedestrian - and from March 2019 a new relationship with the EU will emerge, even if the exact shape of this relationship is, at this point, unknown.
Despite the level of uncertainty surrounding Brexit, enough to knock even Captain Hawkeye Pierce for six, businesses cannot afford to bury their heads in the sand and hope that everything will be okay in the end.
Much like Alda, businesses need to learn to love uncertainty, and to use it to their advantage to thrive. At the very least they should start preparing contingency plans for the various scenarios that might happen in the wake of Brexit and we at Business West are going to help you do just this.
Off the back of our Q1 2017 Local Business Survey it was revealed that approximately 71% of businesses have made no preparations for life after Brexit, despite a large number reporting deep uncertainty.
That being so, over the coming weeks and months we will be setting out what likely macro-economic and trading scenarios businesses can expect and what steps they should take – particularly exporters or businesses which plan to export to the European Union.
What, in theory, should come out in the rub is answers to the nagging questions businesses need answering but were too shy to ask, including:
- Will I have to fill in more paperwork after Brexit?
- Will the cost of supplies go up?
- Will I be able to retain staff from the EU?
- What opportunities are open to me beyond Europe?
- Is expansion in the EU off limits?
- Will I be better off finding suppliers and partners outside Europe?
Running in parallel to this (pre) post-Brexit series of business preparedness blogs, we will, as usual, be keeping you updated on business sentiment and Brexit in the west, and flag up any critical worries that companies, including yours, raise with us.
To lay the groundwork for upcoming weeks, a quick snapshot of where we are and what we know about the likely dynamics of the Brexit negotiations can be found here.
On the theme of positive pre post-Brexit opportunities, you can read Paul O’Collins blog: 'Post-Brexit – time for the innovative to shine’.