Understandably, the prospect of Brexit is causing quite a few jitters in the world of business at the moment. But although Britain’s exit from the EU is bound to pose challenges for a significant number of businesses, I think it presents genuine opportunities too.
Making our own way
In attempting to understand some of the issues associated with Brexit, I think that the notion of family relationships can be a useful analogy. While some people have their children living with them until they’re 30 or so, others find ways to encourage them to go out and find their own way in the world. The second way is undoubtedly harder, on several levels – emotional, financial, in energy, in organisation.
But my view is that this act of ‘kicking out’ can trigger a stronger motivation to get on and succeed. Although painful in the interim, this process can lead to greater rewards in the long term. Looked at like this, the UK’s break from the EU can be seen as a challenge that can and should yield benefits.
Brexit is certainly going to be painful for a number of UK businesses, but when challenged in this way, I am certain that we are going to see just how resilient and how resourceful these businesses can be. In this context, Brexit offers a challenge to be actively embraced.
EU – a community that works for some
This is not to say that I don’t fully appreciate the EU and what it continues to do. The difficulty as I see it, is that not all member states have equivalent levels of economic advancement or industrial sophistication. The EU is a community that works well at the level of a trading community, but when it attempts to level off economic values it works better for some nations than for others. That is not necessarily where everybody wants to be, going forward.
Tying nations together under these circumstances reminds me of all those family get-togethers at Christmas. A lot of people come together in one tight space, there’s friction, tensions rise and it is only traditional family ties that often prevent things from boiling over. After a short time, given their choice, most people would rather go their own way and be back in their own homes. For me, the EU has this kind of feel about it.
I think this analogy applies to the scenario of globalisation, too. Is it necessarily a good thing that we are all part of the same systems, doing the same things together and thinking in a uniform way? Surely we would benefit more from the opportunity to appreciate what it is that makes us different – our individual culture – and the contribution that this can make to the global community?
I think we benefit from changes that challenge communities to improve and try to resolve things in different ways. I think leaving the EU will provide a better result for us and the EU long term. More than if we just carry on, maintaining the status quo.
The easiest path is not always the best
And I accept that this makes it harder for business. Commercial organisations will naturally find the easiest (least hard) way to make a profit. Familiar, successful ways of operating can blind us to the fact that there are other, potentially greater opportunities out there and being forced to think outside the box can open up areas of investigation that had not previously been considered viable. Brexit presents such opportunities by challenging companies to go out and look for new markets.
Companies which put serious investment into the new and the uncertain stand to gain. So while we all share the tension of uncertainty, I believe that we should also be excited by the opportunities that lie ahead for British industry.