It’s safe to say that 2017 has felt less than stable. What with ongoing Brexit negotiations, a snap General Election, a less than favourable economy and GDPR just around the corner, it’s no wonder that many UK businesses, large and small, are feeling uneasy. With all of this going on, 2018 may be looking bleak to business owners. So, as the New Year rolls around, here are our thoughts on braving the uncertainty.
Since the Leave vote, way back in 2016, Brexit has been making itself known across industries and sectors, and there aren’t many businesses that haven’t felt the impact. As we saw a slump in the pound and inflation through the roof, business confidence has been at somewhat of a low.
But all is not lost. Since the kneejerk reaction to the Leave vote, UK businesses have made up lost ground, and we can hold on to some optimism going into 2018.
Navigating the post-Brexit landscape
Whilst we’re cautiously optimistic, we’re not saying things will be easy when we do leave the EU. With the ultimate impact remaining an unknown for everyone, and the end of a 43-year relationship on the horizon, a little uncertainty can’t be helped.
There are a few things to keep in mind in order to stay calm until the turbulence settles.
- It isn’t all doom and gloom. A report from the ICAEW has shown that profits and exports are actually growing at the fastest pace since 2015, and capital investment spending is at a two-year high.
- Concentrate on what’s controllable. Productivity and action will never thrive if business owners flounder in the face of uncertainty. Instead, focus on strengths and opportunities, putting all your effort into the things you can control.
- Whilst Brexit is having a knock-on effect on the economy, it’s not as drastic as was first predicted and UK businesses have experience in managing currency risks.
- Start preparing now. Get ahead of the game by assessing where you could face potential issues after we leave the EU. Where are your links to Europe, within your supply chain or business relationships, and what are the possible solutions?
Getting to grips with GDPR
GDPR is another hot topic, which has given many businesses a wake-up call when it comes to data. From May 2018, all businesses based in the UK, as well as those dealing with UK citizens’ data, will be held to much higher standards when it comes to data collection, storage and protection.
This has given many business owners a fright, with many worrying about their existing lists or collecting new data in a compliant way. Despite the fear though, GDPR is likely to have a positive impact for most businesses; it’s designed to restore trust between you and your customers, which has to be a good thing.
How to keep your head above the GDPR
There are some serious penalties for not complying with GDPR, so it’s not good enough to sit back and wait for it to happen. Businesses should already be clearing out their data lists, making sure existing data has all been collected and stored in a GDPR-friendly way.
Keep up-to-date and be prepared!
The Information Commissioner’s Office website is a good source of information and includes a 12 step guide on Preparing for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
Keep your team informed on all things GDPR.
Anyone and everyone who has anything to do with the data your business stores need to know about the new regulations. If they don’t, your organisation could be facing hefty fines and penalties that may even put you out of business.
The overall picture for 2018
All in all, British businesses are showing resilience in the face of the unknown. 44% of UK companies are optimistic about the future – the highest confidence has been since April 2017.
The key to any period of uncertainty is to plan ahead, taking into account all potential scenarios.
Remember that this is likely to also be a time of unease for your customers, so reaching out to them to understand their concerns and reassure them about their future will go a long way to safeguarding your own.
If you need help building strong relationships with current or potential customers, extending your reach into new markets or getting your data in order prior to GDPR, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.