Independent North Devon-based business magazine covering news about business and enterprise in Barnstaple, Bideford, Braunton, Chulmleigh, Combe Martin, Holsworthy, Ilfracombe, Lynmouth, Lynton, South Molton, Torrington, Woolacombe and more.
BREXIT Can Brexit transform businesses Many UK industries and services have been adopting agile, learning about scrum, continuous improvement, lean manufacturing, leadership and a host of other disciplines for years. We tell ourselves we are agents of change, we can adapt, that is what we are good at, yet faced with the scenario of Brexit it can be easy to crave certainty and lose entrepreneurial spirit. It is also true that some companies are seizing the opportunity that Brexit presents. Do they have more information than the majority that are waiting for clarity on the situation? I think not. Actually, they are working on the certainties they recognise and taking the lead – exactly what we have been preparing for over the past few decades. So, what are these certainties? Certainty No 1: Heritage, Experience and Expertise We in the UK have a great heritage of trade by meeting adversity across the globe, taking the challenge by the horns and creating dynamic and rewarding trading relationships. That heritage still exists. Wherever you travel across the globe, our reputation is strong and goes before us. We are renowned for quality, for creativity, being fair, for doing what we say we will do. Our successful companies define these attributes. Think of Mulberry, Dyson and Fox’s to name a few. Our sectors too are renowned throughout the world: we are leaders in aviation, music, financial services, education and more. into exporters? A new Netflix TV series offers a choice of 10 possible endings, but, depending on who you listen to, Brexit could offer many more: from plunging the UK into an economic abyss to raising it to the heights of a western version of Singapore. With uncertainty seeming the only certainty whatever deal is agreed, thrown out, implemented or thwarted, Linda Middleton-Jones of International Trade Matters draws on her 25 years’ experience in international commerce and representing South West business interests globally to give a practical view of how North Devon businesses can survive and thrive Certainty No 2: Friendships Whatever the nature of the Brexit arrangement, it is absolutely clear that right now we should be reinforcing existing relationships with our buyers or suppliers across the globe. In our brave new world, we should not underestimate the value of face-to-face relationships over and above those we make on a digital framework. We know that a mixture of traditional and digital marketing methods used to underpin a growth strategy is important when based upon a clear understanding of customer values and desires. When we communicate with customers, we gain an understanding of their world, vital to sustaining existing trading relationships and creating new ones. Improving and adapting to meet customer needs is fundamental to any successful product or service and especially important within supply chains. Certainty No 3: Exporting Skills Many companies have become adept at selling or buying into Europe. Indeed, it is just the same as selling to Aberdeen, Plymouth or Brighton. Easy and uncomplicated, easing the way to new buyers across the member countries. At the same time a great many companies also sell across the globe. They have gained a great deal of skills in exporting over the years. It is certain that we will have to convert/revert to exporting to the EU. HMRC has already given us an indication of what that will mean. Current global export / import level is approximately 90 million transactions per year. If current trade with EU remains at the same level, that figure will jump to 300 million transactions per year. That is a significant shift in skills requirement; skills in exporting that will have to be learnt ready for Brexit. Choosing to train your employees now in the intricacies of Certificates of Origin, Incoterms and Tariffs will mean that your company is prepared. Admittedly, we have no visibility of the level of tariffs but that will soon become clear. The important thing is to understand the fundamentals of exporting; that is a skill that can be developed now. Given our heritage, experience and expertise; our recognition that relationships are important; and that we need to learn how to export, is there anything else that we need to consider? Certainty No 4: Innovation Sells Innovation is key to the future – either inside or outside Europe. There is recognition in the value of innovative entrepreneurs who are currently changing the way and the speed of business. Global big business is a like a big oil tanker: it takes longer to change course, it has little agility and is slow and steady. The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) have already recognised the breed of disruptor as one of the main USPs of our country. This ‘breed’ will be the driver for success and in effect is synonymous with innovation. Innovation within the UK has always been our competitive advantage, our USP, in effect. We have great examples of our creativity in manufacturing, across services and through technology. Given that funding streams and global alliances are likely to change, innovation is more important than ever. We need to remain the benchmark country, building on our reputation for quality and tradition in the ever-changing political and economic scenario. At International Trade Matters, we think that successful companies are agile in their thinking, leading innovation within to meet the challenges that need solving. Brexit is one such case where we need to prepare for what we know will happen and subsequently harness our resources to meet uncertainty. We have the capability and capacity to guide your learning either through accredited courses or by oneto-one support and guidance. ■■Details 01398 351560 or internationaltradematters.com 12 business action | February / March2019 | business-action.co.uk
With employment at record high levels across North Devon, and the exit date for Britain’s departure from the EU only weeks away, there has never been a more important time for businesses to consider whether they have the skills needed to compete in the future. Colleges and universities have a range of expertise, but it isn’t always as accessible and as relevant to businesses as it should be. Accessing the best training can be particularly challenging for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which altogether make-up 99.8% of companies in North Devon and Torridge. SMEs may struggle to commit their employees to more traditional courses that require large amounts of time outside the workplace. This can be particularly difficult in a large rural area like North Devon with a limited road network. New higher and degree apprenticeships, which SKILLS University offers free workplace needs assessment Take advantage of this opportunity to assess what skills your business needs to succeed offered by the University of Plymouth provide work-based training and a higher education qualification, go some way towards addressing these issues. Not only is the content of such qualifications more relevant to businesses but, to take the example of the University of Plymouth’s Chartered Manager degree apprenticeship, most of the tutors have considerable industry experience. However, learning providers can only provide relevant courses for employees if they understand what businesses need. Larger businesses often have more opportunities to engage with educational institutions and large training budgets. Free needs assessment To help address this, the University of Plymouth has been working with colleges across Devon, including Petroc, on a Strategic Employer Engagement in Devon project funded by the European Social Fund. The project works directly with SMEs across Devon to boost the ■ ■ To discuss your free workplace needs assessment, contact Charles Dorr, ESF delivery manager on 01752 583620 or visit plymouth.ac.uk/research/strategic-employer-engagement skills of their workforce and develop higher level vocational training which is more responsive to businesses. The project provides free Workplace Needs Assessments for businesses across the county to help understand and address their individual skills needs, as well as free CPD and taster sessions on such areas as team leadership and data analysis. 6 March export event One example is an event on ‘International Trade after Brexit’ taking place at Petroc in Barnstaple on Wednesday 6 March, featuring Kevin Shakespeare of the Institute of Export and International Trade who is a University of Plymouth lecturer. By engaging with this project, businesses in North Devon will have an opportunity not only to access free training but also to have an influence on how colleges and universities can support them in the future. Wills Property Trusts (in will) Children’s Trusts (in will) Funeral Plans Probate Lasting Powers of Attorney Wills: £70 Single / £105 Joint @businessactionm | February / March2019 | business action 13