Interesting Times? Just Get it Done!

Interesting Times? Just Get it Done!

Even in the short time between thinking about this article and writing it, things have changed dramatically.   The only constant of recent times would seem to have been uncertainty – but does this necessarily have to be a bad thing?

Last week was the run-up to the 12th December 2019 General Election, with its back-drop of 3 years of Brexit uncertainty and a complete inability for the UK parliament to agree on how (or even if) the UK would leave the European Union.    At 10pm as the polling stations closed and the exit poll results were published, it appeared that this particular chapter had closed. However,  there are still many twists and turns ahead.

All sides of the argument pointed to the damage uncertainty is doing to business and the economy – but there was a complete lack of consensus on what should be done about it. “It’s Brexit innit” seems to have become a handy throw away term for any emerging problem.  

But is uncertainty really such a problem?

Certainly, it’s not seen as something to be cherished, but there is a long history of entrepreneurs thriving in uncertain times. Indeed, whilst political stability would seem to be an advantage to economic growth, it doesn’t necessarily follow that political instability is a barrier. 

GDP Growth2015201620172018
Political Stability201520162017 

A quick look at the major Western Economies shows a tendency for economic growth (i.e. business) to just get on with it. The table above shows Economic Growth and Political Stability across the last 4 years – whilst there’s been a drop in both growth and stability in the UK the impact on GDP is arguably more to do with trading uncertainty. Certainly looking at France and the US there have been larger shifts in stability without a corresponding fall in growth.

Economic uncertainty is undoubtedly a threat to business confidence, growth and prosperity.  But it doesn’t necessarily follow that business cannot turn the environment to its own advantage.   

The time to ‘sit back and wait it out’ looks to have passed.   Brexit will take time to play out and amongst other things, we have the prospect of trade war between the US and China to deal with.  Uncertainty is not about to pass.

So, it’s time for business to just get on with it.   Whilst uncertainty is far from ideal, it doesn’t mean that business is helpless.   Yes, there are risks, but with risks come opportunity.

Savings and margin improvement are an obvious place to start and ‘spend reduction’ strategies have a knock-on effect across the economy.  An inside-out, ‘spend smarter’ approach can have a broader, more far reaching impact.   Harnessing technology, collaborating with suppliers to improve process and supply chain and better aligning the organisation to core markets are all positive approaches.

Entrepreneurs have thrived on uncertainty throughout history.  Maybe the winning slogan of last week’s election – “Get it done!” – is a call to arms for all of us.