Last week, new IoD Director General, Stephen Martin, spent a day in Kent with local business and got a real sense of the quality, entrepreneurism and ambition that exists around the county.
He took away a clear message, echoed by IoD members across the country, that the election was a dismal failure when it came to prioritising economic growth, talent development and business support. As a result, business leaders are left with no encouragement or clarity about trading or investment prospects and future status of EU workers needed to support plans for growth. Confidence amongst members has crashed from 34% optimistic vs 37% gloomy last month, to 20% upbeat against 57% ‘quite or very pessimistic’ now.
Always an optimist I believe there are two courses of actions available to us immediately. Firstly, we need to keep talking to government about the fundamental role of business in wealth and job creation – that underpins funding for growing pressures on all of our public services. Secondly, we should start looking now for new opportunities, where the force of Brexit is likely to have the least impact. This might be in the UK and taking products and services into new parts of the country or into new countries outside of the EU. As the Duke of York commented recently, “we should be engaging with as many different markets as we possibly can and looking at the best of things rather than necessarily the worst of things. So... you may lose one thing but you may gain something else”.
I’m all for that, for not sitting back to “wait and see” but for getting out there now and shaping our own future.