Phil MeekinView Profile
The last six months have been a period of turmoil in the media. Most of this is down to uncertainty – a curse which always makes people jittery, hits confidence and suppresses investment.
The biggest issue recently has perhaps been the whole issue of Brexit. Politicians on both sides of the argument have made ludicrous claims which they could not substantiate. It is very difficult to compare what we have now with something we have not experienced before and the implications are potentially far reaching. Debates have become mud-slinging matches and former political allies have been locked in conflict with many previously well thought of individuals losing credibility. Leading industrialists, business owners, foreign politicians as well as institutions such as the IMF, have expressed views but these are rarely impartial and reflect how they perceive the outcome will impact on their own interests.
Then of course there is the US presidential election campaign. We are now down to Donald Trump v. Hilary Clinton. According to the American media neither is hugely popular and many seem to think that ultimately it will be a choice of the lesser of two evils rather than the most popular who will become president.
Nearer to home we have the issue of the Northern Powerhouse – a great idea to focus northern towns and cities into one concentrated unit able to compete more effectively in the global market. It is a concept to reduce the inequality between the North and South. But despite conferences and rhetoric, it is slow getting off the ground. Arguments about the routes of HS2 and HS3 have still to be resolved and that is only scratching the surface of the Northern Powerhouse.
So with all this doom and gloom in the media where will we be in twelve months? For hundreds of years Britain has had a strong trading reputation in which our region has played a significant role. Neither the result of the Brexit referendum nor the outcome of the US presidential election will change that.
There may be short term glitches caused by the outcome of these events but in the medium to long term there is no reason why we should not bounce back whatever the results. Many business owners who follow their long term gut instincts and continue to invest in their businesses will gain the edge over their more reticent competitors.
Those businesses which do face short to medium term issues which may impact on cash flow need to act quickly to ensure irreparable damage is not done. It may be something simple like stepping back and reviewing employee numbers in the light of current trade or perhaps engaging in some proactive marketing to increase business.
To weather the storm may involve raising finance. This is far more readily available than it was only a couple of years ago, but if this still proves difficult and the core business is sound there are ways of salvaging it – providing early advice and action is taken. It could be a matter of buying time while investors are attracted, or if the current owners don’t have an appetite to continue, they may be looking to sell the business and withdraw their investment. The key is taking early advice.