SMEs need to be agile for Brexit
With a little over four months to go until Brexit Day on 29 March 2019, the IoD has been exploring just how prepared UK SMEs are. How evolved are their contingency plans and how can they protect against uncertainty in the longer term?
There are still many question marks over our withdrawal from the European Union and it’s often hard to distinguish the facts from the political rhetoric - but the simple answer is this: if you haven’t started planning then you are already behind.
That might sound harsh. Small business owners have enough on their plate just running the company on a day-to-day basis. But now is the time to get yourself, and your business, fighting fit for Brexit.
Planning for potential Brexit scenarios is of course important and good advice has never been more important. The IoD has urged the Chancellor to issue Brexit planning vouchers that enable SMEs to apply for and purchase legal and professional advice.
But these uncertain times also call for an often-overlooked skill – agility. I am a firm believer that directors should never stop learning in order to stay agile and competitive.
Last week, we launched our first Directors' Skills Day in York, an exclusive day of workshops designed to develop attendees’ understanding of strategy, leadership, and effectiveness.
Expert course leaders included experienced dealmaker Jo Haigh, the CEO and founder of fds, and Deborah Benson, the first and youngest female director to be appointed at Scottish construction company the Miller Group. Content included industry case studies and practical exercises designed to facilitate peer networking.
Guest speaker at the lunch was Prof Terry Hodgkinson CBE, former chairman of regional development agency Yorkshire Forward, who has accrued considerable executive and non-executive experience in privately owned, not-for profit and government organisations.
With more than 40 attendees and universally positive feedback, it showed there is clearly an appetite for challenging mindsets and enhancing skills in these changing times.
Smart directors understand that standing still is not an option, that you must keep on developing your skills to boost agility. This applies regardless of your age or company size.
The success of this inaugural event has encouraged us to stage more Skills Days in 2019 and we’ll be heading to Leeds early next year. Check our website for the latest information. We’re also exploring funding options to ensure our courses are accessible to everyone.
We can’t tell you how Brexit will play out but together we can help each other to stay agile, embrace the opportunities and avoid the dangers of the brave new world post-Brexit.
Natalie Sykes, Regional Director IoD Yorkshire & North East