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We’re all a little tired from battling the Beast from the East this winter. Yes, there was all that snow, but we have also felt the settling in of a big freeze in international relations thanks to Brexit and events from Salisbury to Syria. For small businesses, this may well mean a turn in the economic weather – so I’ve been talking to my clients this week about how they can best prepare.

Ready to weather the storm

According to the CBI, the Brexit transitional period and associated changes to legislation bring risk of increased costs, especially for sectors such as agriculture and tourism. It also found in its recent survey of UK businesses that this impact will flow up and down their supply chains.

But the industry body took the opportunity to highlight the opportunities that come with change. The countdown to Brexit is a chance for SMEs to become fighting fit and to plan more proactively for economic rainy days ahead – no matter the cause.

One roofing contractor I have been working with, for instance, could not get out to jobs during the inclement weather – they had lots of work in the pipeline, but had to shunt it forward and into a shorter timeframe once the temperature gauge rose.

So, in the downtime, I worked with them to review their processes, plan for more efficient working in the warmer months, and look at their supplier contracts and agreements. As a result, they are much better placed to manage their heavy workload, retain good relationships with their customers and face whatever other challenges are ahead.

So, here’s my top five ways businesses can prepare for these kinds of economic shocks:

  1. Be brave. Now is the time to look forward and make bold, informed decisions about where your business is heading. Business planning is key to avoiding reactive and short-term thinking.
  2. Move quickly. The economy is shifting into a faster gear, so now is not the time for slowly pondering your next move. Make strategic thinking an everyday activity.
  3. Remain flexible. Moving fast means that you’re not always going to get it right. The secret is to review the impact of your decisions and adapt constantly as you go.
  4. Demand more. If you’re working hard to adapt to the needs of your customer, don’t be afraid to ask for more loyalty in return. You should be rewarded – with longer term contracts, for example.
  5. Value your people. Staff are a long-term investment. Avoid convenient short-term contracts in favour of building a permanent team with the experience and skills your business needs to excel.

How would your business survive an economic storm?

Find and contact your local Haines Watts office

About the author

David Fort

David specialises in advising expanding owner-managed businesses and offering bespoke services to company directors as their businesses develop, particularly in areas of wealth creation and asset protection. Having worked as an FD for a company that grew very rapidly, David also has practical experience.  David deals with companies starting up to those that are well established and who may just need a guiding hand with strategic and operational matters.

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