The short answer is that you cannot really plan for Brexit (in whatever form it does or doesn’t take) until you know exactly what the beast is.
The longer answer is that of course you can cover your backside by thinking through what might happen and how it might affect your business.
‘What if’ planning can only go so far.
One of three or maybe four scenarios will occur. Or maybe five! In principle, we just need to run through the implications of each scenario so that we are not caught totally unawares.
It could be argued that there are bigger strategic issues (that you can do something about… that you should do something about). For instance, the choice of platforms to invest in, the growing trend to move from pure PPC/performance towards a fuller service/brand agency offering, the decision to invest/drill into one niche market, solving your staff recruitment and retention issues, sorting your company culture. But I digress, but only a little.
How big a threat is Brexit to your business? There are some things you need to consider for each scenario. Summarising from the IOD,
1) Have we mapped out all our potential pinch-points of exposure to Brexit – from financing and tax liabilities to regulatory compliance requirements and an EU employee audit?
2) Have we discussed the company’s Brexit plan and risk assessment with the board, shareholders and staff?
4) Do we know what a no-deal scenario or falling back on WTO rules would mean for us?
5) What are the cash-flow implications of continued volatility in the exchange rate? Have we made any plans to mitigate this?
6) Have we conducted a review of our supply chain – upstream and downstream – to assess the potential for indirect impacts of Brexit changes. Have we looked at alternative suppliers?
7) Can my business absorb the range of potential cost increases, and/or can we pass any of these on to customers?
8) What discussions have we had with existing customers, clients and suppliers to discuss different Brexit scenarios and whether contracts should be reviewed now or in the future?
9) Has anyone in the company been assigned responsibility for Brexit maintenance/planning, and if not, should someone be tasked with this?
10) Is there a need to look at regulatory/licensing requirements in other EU countries and assess what the most cost-effective place to open a subsidiary/local branch or new head office would be?
11) If looking to raise finance, have we factored Brexit into this?
12) Should we review or revise profit forecasts and cash-flow predictions?
13) Are we using the weaker pound as part of our export sales marketing strategy?
14) Have we considered how any intellectual property will continue to be protected in the EU after Brexit? Does the business have any EC trademarks that will need to be converted into UK ones?
15) Do we supply any services or have any training/expertise that we could capitalise on to help other companies with their Brexit planning?
Stepping back, Brexit is just another strategic variable for your business.
Every year you should review the strategic landscape and how it affects your business and your decision-making for today and tomorrow. Ask the big strategic questions.
What factors are impinging or affecting your business:
What are the political, economic, social, technological, legislative and environmental factors you need to be aware of?
What’s happening in the industry?
What’s happening in the market?
What’s happening for your competitors?
What’s happening for your customers?
What’s happening in your business?
More importantly, how do you choose to respond to these factors?
All this will be considered while assessing and possibly adjusting your ‘cascade’:
What is your vision for the business? What do you want to be, in, say, three years?
What is your mission? What numbers do you want to achieve to hit that vision?
What is your strategy? How are you going to hit those numbers?
What are your core success factors? What are milestones on the way to enable you to achieve the strategy?
What are your KPIs? What key performance or predictive indicators do you need to achieve to hit the core success factors?
A strategy workshop (using the Gamechanger, cascade, dashboard and wallpaper techniques) will help you to define the what, when and how of your future. It will help you to assess the risks and rewards as well as give you the tools to monitor and evaluate your performance in the light of changes in the strategic environment. You will prioritise the best options and resources to create a powerful and compelling plan for the next years of the business. Put in place a schedule of planning and review meetings and Brexit will slot into the process.
That’s it really. A clear, well-proven strategy process will give your agency the focus and clarity it needs. Job done.
Brexit is an opportunity for the glass-half-full, high-performing agency; other agencies will dither while you take the bull by the horns.
You can run workshops and seminars. You can write white papers.
You can offer Brexit audits. You can offer surgeries.
You can speak at conferences.
You can use the weak pound to compete abroad.
You can take advantage of the crashing property markets.
You can offer guarantees in a world full of uncertainty.
While other agencies dawdle, the ability to measure ROI should make performance marketing more attractive than traditional brand marketing.
While others batten down the hatches you can stand out by being bold, brave and clear in how you can significantly help and benefit the bottom line of your clients.
At the end of the day there are three boxes in life: things you can control, things you can influence and things you can do sod-all about. Brexit sits somewhere between the influence and sod-all box! The decisions you choose to make for the future of your business sit squarely in the control box.
Stop waiting to find out what others are going to do and take control.