Content Coms sustainability guru Giles Crosse looks at surviving Brexit; a guide for SMEs
Whether you voted Leave or Remain, Brexit is here.
SMEs are the businesses most affected by short term economics. Their day to day existence is governed by cashflow and order books. Even 2 or 3 year blips can signal big trouble for many.
Therefore, Brexit tremors pose SMEs challenges. But SMEs hold a massive stake in the UK economy too. The FSB says small businesses accounted for 99.3% of UK private sector businesses at the start of 2015.
Further; employment in SMEs was 15.6 million; 60% of all private sector employment in the UK, and combined annual turnover of SMEs was £1.8 trillion, 47% of all UK private sector turnover.
So guiding SMEs through Brexit isn’t just about the odd entrepreneur’s career. It’s about keeping the UK’s economic lifeblood pumping.
What should SMEs do now Brexit is here?
The Financial Times reported on 29 June that two SMEs it spoke with had just had credit lines pulled. Another said its recent funding round would have failed had it come after the vote. Then there are companies accustomed to EU subsidies, like dairy firms. Will the next Tory Government find the cash to match payments from Brussels, now dead in the water? Unlikely.
That is the negative side. Contrastingly, Lloyds’ SME Managing Director told Parliament on 28 June that nothing had changed for its SME services, and the bank was very much open for business.
SMEs could, frankly, spend days poring over broadsheets, and while away sleepless nights stressing over whats, ifs and buts.
At Content Coms, our analysis suggests a different, proactive approach is better.
Empowerment for SMEs; broadcast the fact you’re still in business
a) Nothing fundamental has yet changed. While others linger; pump out the message you are active, trading and ready for business in Europe and beyond. Win business while competitors hesitate.
b) Lobby Government, local MPs and business leaders to hold fast to the EU laws, especially on sustainability, that help UK business. At Content Coms, we specialise in low carbon. We know sustainable, energy efficient businesses will form the backbone of UK prosperity for years to come. Shout for maintenance of the UK’s low carbon lead.
c) Rationalise cost. Examine how efficiency can minimise your energy spend. Then, shout about the fact, and use it in your marketing as evidence of futureproofing against potential Brexit shocks. Prove you are an intelligent, forward looking firm, shielded with wise risk management.
d) Talk with the EU. If you do business there, call your contacts today. Promise them you are here to help them. Endorse your commitments to them. In other words, maintain your own chunk of the EU market.
Remember; the media and the politicians love a storm
Half of what you read about Brexit is untrue; the other half is speculation. As is what politicians, who don’t actually know, will tell you.
Media and political careers are built on scaremongering and opportunity. Don’t get caught up in these games. As an SME, your job is to move, swiftly and efficiently, back to business as normal. By doing so now you can prove to competitors and Europe alike just how worthy of investment, support and new business you are.
A Guardian feature, published before Brexit, found small businesses evenly split on Leave or Remain. But tellingly, ‘Half of all respondents could not give a clear business reason for both sides of the argument.’
This is because, unsurprisingly, no one can predict the future. Don’t pretend you can, or even try. Get to work now on day to day business. Top of the list should be clarifying and delivering your marketing stance to the UK, Europe and beyond; we are ready for business, you are welcome to join us.
In so doing, UK SMEs as a whole can achieve what politicians seemingly cannot; logical consensus and a path forward to sustainable trade, jobs and opportunities within an open Europe.
SMEs themselves can show EU firms how keen we are to do business, how valuable our trade is to both sides. Don’t let opportunistic, weak minded politicians scupper your business ambitions. Speak up now, and you will be trading with Europe long after they have left office.
“The Guardian says it all,” comments Jo Watchman, Founder and CEO of Content Coms, itself an SME. “The Guardian writes; ‘some expect this to be a short-term problem as the real UK economy is essentially strong.’”
Strong now, and stronger in the future it can remain, if our SME leaders grab the initiative.