Cast your mind back a year and you will remember claims and counter claims regarding the consequences of either staying within or leaving the EU. A year later and we have not seen the doomsday scenario of predicted by the stayers, but neither have we seen the Brave New World of the leavers. Many will argue that it is too early to judge on who was right and who was wrong but, so far, the stayers were right about a fall in sterling in the currency markets and the leavers were right that exports would be helped.
So what does all of this say about the UK’s position in the world as we exit the EU, and what are the longer-term prospects? Judging from the commentaries circulating currently there is too much uncertainty to be able to predict the outcome. My perspective on this is different. I foresee that the outcome will not depend, ultimately, upon the final position of the Brexit settlement. It will depend instead on the resilience of UK companies and their ability to succeed and to make the most of opportunities in the resulting business environment.
It is because of those characteristics that, in my view, we have not seen inflation rocket, unemployment escalate, the Stock Exchange plummet, and the world come to an end. We all like stability and certainty; that makes life easier to handle and allows us more confidence in our decisions. That said, when was the last time any of us had that surety? Even if Brexit was clear, the wider business environment is very uncertain: America’s changing position in relation to the rest of the world, China, North Korea, Russia, the Middle East. Each of these will create difficulties and dangers, but also opportunities.
We are all in business to make a success of whatever it is that we do. We do not expect circumstances to be always in our favour and we adopt and adapt to ever changing circumstances. Those of us who do this best will be the ones who flourish. More to the point, collectively, we will not allow Brexit to ruin our businesses. And that is my point: UK business will not run and hide from the real world, whatever it throws at us. Instead, we will do whatever it takes to not only survive but to succeed. That is why Brexit will be a self-fulfilling prophecy – but it will be the achievers who fulfil their own prophecies and not the sooth-sayers.
Garry Smith is a business coach at Advantage Business Partnerships and the co-author of Creating Business Advantage: Setting Up and Running A Successful Business (SRA Books, 2015) ISBN 978-1-909116-43-6