How is small business reacting not just to the unease surrounding Brexit, but the US president-elect’s sentiment toward protectionism?
Brexit and potential US-China trade wars may well be unnerving small business should the potential ripple effects start to directly impact.
So what should small businesses do to prepare? Do they see just the threats, or is there opportunity to be had? Especially if the doom-laden forecasts prove groundless.
After all, Trump has already back-tracked or softened on many of his campaign pledges, and while there’s plenty of posturing, a hard Brexit is arguably not a foregone conclusion.
The sharp fall in the value of the pound is an opportunity for exporters. But at the same time, higher import costs may soon impact.
Whatever happens, how can small business prepare? Is it all about cutting corners and costs in order to survive? Or is there something else people can do to capitalise on the opportunities.
We decided to ask small businesses what they could do to cut corners and costs, and what other advice they could give.
Business Energy Reduction Consultant, Power Solutions
Alan Higham, a staunch red, but now based a few miles outside of Liverpool, helps companies save money on their energy costs anyway. But his advice is to take a glass half-full approach:
“Sharpen your pencil and get your thinking cap on.”
“Look at it this way – there is more business opportunity in a recession as people review what they buy and what they pay – but they still have to buy ‘stuff’ no matter what.”
“If two people are running away from a lion, you don’t have to be quicker than the lion, just quicker than the other guy….. so quicker, better, cheaper than the competition, unique in some way, will find you new opportunity. If you stand still, you are already going backwards.”
Word Of Mouth Consultant,
Ian Denny, a local word-of-mouth specialist who helps people generate repeat and referred business, is equally optimistic:
“Any change creates fear and resistance. And even if there is some short term pain, I think it will settle.”
“Things have held steady so far, and while it’s like that, I’d recommend looking outside of Europe if you can. The pound makes you cheaper. And ‘brand GB’ is still strong.”
“The efforts of Liverpool council in their latest trade mission to China should be looked at. Of course, don’t take your eye off local and European clients, but view this as an opportunity to broaden your horizons.”
Sales & Letting Agent, C&D Properties
Ian Murray is the Managing Director of a local property agent, and his sector was worst hit during the recession. He shares the upbeat outlook:
“I actually became a Director of C&D Properties in 2008 (timing is everything!) which was when the recession began to properly bite within the property market.”
“The best advice I can give to anybody in business during such a time is ‘Don’t lose heart'”
“You need to have total belief in yourself, your staff, the service you provide and your ability to continue to grow your business even in the face of great difficulties.”
“If you can see it through, then you and your business will be stronger and better equipped to take advantage of things when the economy inevitably picks up.”
“You’ll also give yourself every chance to benefit from the extra business available due to other, less determined competitors, falling by the wayside during the recession.”
Commercial Debt Recovery Specialist, Emerald Law
Kelley Hargreaves specialises in debt recovery, an area that traditionally thrives in a recession. She advocates prevention as well as recovery:
“You can often prevent alot of stress in challenging times by proactively assessing who you are trading with. When a company struggles, alarm bells ring.”
“And with the right assistance, you can manage your exposure and reduce risks in the first place. But insolvencies can kick in quickly in tough times.”
“So it’s important to jump the queue by taking action sooner than slower rivals who may be too late to collect what’s owed.”
With article 50 scheduled to be triggered in March 2017, the uncertainty continues, particularly following the recent High Court ruling which insists parliament must vote on the issue.
As was reported earlier this month, local SMEs are turning their backs on borrowing, with half of small businesses considering themselves ‘non-borrowers’.
So with the sentiment appearing to be one of waiting and seeing, perhaps this is a lull before the storm.
Do you think it will all blow over? Or perhaps you have your own ideas on what you should do to prepare just in case? Please comment below.