Businesses and the wider public could be forgiven for being confused by the mixed messages emanating from the media and politicians alike in recent times. From political campaigns, increased regulations, elections and Brexit to the growth of new technology and the rise of the millennials, change seems to be the only constant.
Hasn’t this always been the case? Maybe so, but what does feel new is the pace and scale of change, and the level of uncertainty it creates. So how does the business community react to that uncertainty? And how can business leaders and decision-makers survive and thrive?
An insight into these questions can be found in Price Bailey’s recent Inside the Minds of Business Leaders 2017 report, based on research carried out by Ipsos MORI with 200 business decision-makers across London and East Anglia. And despite the negative headlines in the wider media, the business community is clearly intent on making the most of any opportunities created by change and uncertainty.
Three-quarters of business leaders across the region are confident that their business will grow over the next three years, while more than half (55%) say that Brexit has so far made no difference to their business. Great news. Perhaps the most startling statistic is that only a quarter identified Brexit as one of their top three business concerns.
Reasons to be optimistic
What is it that gives business leaders more optimism and confidence about the future than the headlines would suggest? Perhaps one reality is that business owners and leaders are always dealing with new challenges. Experienced business owners and managers have been through periods of uncertainty before, such as the financial crisis of 2008, and the ensuing unpredictability it created.
Many of them have become adept at dealing with these cycles, as well as planning for the uncertainty. Their business confidence will come from their experience, their ability to lead, and from the support of their business advisers, who will discuss and explore options with them before problems occur.
On a daily basis, our clients want to explore the ‘what ifs?’. What if something happens in their market, what impact will it have on their business? Clients will share their concerns, which can be very specific to their family or business. Their uncertainty may be around Brexit, rising interest rates, the impact of new legislation, or pension and tax changes.
By exploring their concerns, we can put things into context, and plan for those ‘what ifs?’. We can then work together to provide the solutions that meet their needs. At the very least they have information and a plan.
Planning for a positive outcome
But the key to any period of uncertainty – or to any major change – is to seek expert advice early, and to prepare. This isn’t just a Brexit issue, you can apply the same processes and thinking to any major change or challenge – from retirement and succession planning to a business sale, building a new manufacturing plant, or expanding into new territories.
There’s no substitute for corporate and financial planning, and I suspect the 74% of people in this survey who are confident that their business will grow have had various scenarios built into their planning for the last five or six years.
It was very affirming to see the strength of optimism among the business owners and decision-makers surveyed, which is shared by me and many of my colleagues. Pessimism is rare, and our optimism will carry us a long way. There was a feeling among many that in previous crises we’ve talked ourselves into trouble. This time there was a real sense of resolve and resilience from business leaders that we’re not going to let that happen again.
Their focus now is on how we deal with the changes – by planning ahead to remove uncertainty, and getting the right advice and support to make a positive difference. This speaks volumes about the experience and dedication of our clients. They are flexible, adaptable, and often able to diversify, and it’s really rewarding as a firm to be able to work with such determined businesses, as well as drawing on their experiences and stories to help others who may be just starting out on a similar road.
To find out more about planning for business uncertainty, contact Claire La Rue, Manager, PB Financial Planning Ltd, using the form below. You can find out more about Inside the Minds of Business Leaders 2017 through our digital report.
We always recommend that you seek advice from a suitably qualified adviser before taking any action. The information in this article only serves as a guide and no responsibility for loss occasioned by any person acting or refraining from action as a result of this material can be accepted by the authors or the firm.