Britain voted to leave the EU in last week’s referendum. For many business leaders this came as a shock. What does it mean for the economy? How will it affect employment? How will it impact life in the UK?
The simple answer to these questions is: we don’t know. Everything about Brexit is unpredictable, and it’s difficult to gauge what the lasting effects of the referendum will be. It’s important to take a moment, pause, and think before reacting to an increasingly volatile situation.
What You’re Likely Thinking
Our response to a business crisis often falls into one of three categories;
1. Hunker Down, Slim Down, and Trim the Fat
This one makes immediate sense. Get rid of the extra expenses, the underperforming employees, and focus on making your business leaner.
Reign in expenses and all will be well… but it’s not that simple. Now is not the time to panic. You have to be forward thinking, and your team has to work together to get the best out of a bad situation.
2. Fool Yourself (Everything is okay)
Except it’s not. It’s easy to put your head in the sand and ignore the wider story. But this will affect your business and it will most certainly affect the morale of your employees. So you need to be honest with what’s going on, and you have to acknowledge that times may be tough.
3. Stay the Course
Things won’t just return to normal. The EU vote will have lasting repercussions that will alter your business projections. If you do nothing, you’ll quickly find yourself in a context you haven’t prepared for. Now is the time to think through how the referendum results will shape the future of your business.
It’s always tempting to respond to problems in a manner you’re used to. But something of this scale, something you’re completely underprepared to deal with, needs a healthy amount of considered and proactive planning.
The Good News
It’s likely the majority of business leaders reading this blog survived the 2008 financial crash. So we’re practiced, and we know a financial crisis will eventually blow over. We’ve got through it before, and we will do so again.
But it’s all down to the way we respond. Here’s my advice on how to come out of this crisis on top.
Analyse the business sectors you do well in
If you turn on the financial news you’ll see story after story about businesses relocating out of the UK, jobs lost, and a frightening slump in the value of the pound. But not every sector is affected negatively by these trends, and there will be some new opportunities to promote your business and its services.
So, analyse the business sectors you do well in. There may be scope for sourcing new candidates and perhaps even placing them in jobs the crisis has made available.
For example, with the drop in the value of Sterling, the tourism sector will likely experience growth. The UK will be cheaper to visit so it follows that there could be more visitors to the country which in turn would benefit the food and drink sector too. These industries will be looking to advertise their services effectively so marketers with expertise in this sector will remain in demand.
Next up, lots of companies are going to look at internal change, so HR departments will get busy. The education and healthcare market will remain largely unaffected as it still has to work with skill shortages, so those sectors are ripe for targeting.
Lastly, the Tech sector will remain buoyant as smart, forward thinking businesses will look to further innovation and find better efficiencies with Tech products and services.
Consider your business geographically (we’re cheap from an international perspective)
The financial shockwaves from the referendum reverberated the world over, and international markets have been affected. But the fall in the value of the pound means your business is more attractive to foreign investors. Your services are cheaper now than they’ve ever been.
Reverse your thinking, change up your business strategy, and promote your business and its services in markets with the means to invest. It might mean that you need to tweak your pitch and realign your market positioning, but the future belongs to those with foresight so grasp this opportunity to grow your business in places you wouldn’t have been able to before.
Talk to your clients and gauge what their future plans are
It’s easy to self-diagnose and worry about what comes next. Often, though, we base our future projections on worries, rather than on hard facts. When it comes to thinking about what your clients are going to do, the best approach is to simply ask them.
A frank discussion on what their future plans are can help assuage some of your fears about what’s coming next. You never know, your conversation with your clients could not only reassure them but you could end up picking up new opportunities to support them.
Be frank with your team, focus on efficiency, and centralise costs
Your team are affected by the EU referendum decision and it’s likely many of them are fearful and uncertain about what the future holds. Gather your employees for a company wide meeting, show them you understand their concerns, and make sure they know you’re in control.
Provide reassurance for the employees who are performing, and remind those who aren’t they need to up their game, especially in trying times such as these. Align your employees with company values, provide a collective goal, and work together to not only survive, but come out of this crisis stronger.
Look for efficiences in your business
Now’s the time to make sure you are super-efficient in your processes, so consider the systems and technologies your company uses. Paying separate fees for hosting your website, CRM, multi-posting, and analytics, alongside collecting data from all over the place, is crazy. This is the time to gain a competitive edge and save money on unnecessary admin. Now is the time to hone your business into something leaner and more efficient.
As our friend, Greg Savage, says:
‘Be brave. Resist the temptation to collapse back to what you have always done. Disrupt your business from the inside.’
Lastly… Buy a lot of gin
The last step in getting through this crisis – buy a lot of gin. There are plenty of cheap bulk deals online and this is something I have personally found helps.
Times are tough, and there’s plenty to worry about. But focussing on the positives and working out how to turn this all to your advantage can mark the difference between success and failure in the long run.
Good luck and see you on the other side!
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