From the
Bottom of
the Glass.

Even before the lockdown began many predicted 2020 would be another difficult year. The inevitable uncertainty around the impact of Brexit (remember Brexit?) was weighed against a government buoyed by a big majority, promising economic levelling and a new “global Britain”. 

Then COVID changed the conversation... Overnight.

For many it added yet another layer of doom to their half empty glass.

These days 24hr news and uninformed opinion merge through the always-on media channel in your pocket, making it easy to become entrenched in a world-view framed (and even manipulated) by others and before you know it, you can only see the dark.

I'm not advocating blind optimism or berating those who perceive real danger in the uncertain times ahead. But I’d like to posit that we all have a choice. That we can all choose to think for ourselves, to read widely, to stay informed, to challenge fatalism, to question even our own preconceptions and ultimately – even in a time of crisis - to imagine “opportunity”.

Because times like these do create opportunity.

Because times like these do create opportunity.

Some level of economic reckoning is coming. Many businesses will fail and the tendency is to see that end as inevitable. But conversely, the explosion of start-ups that we saw in the 2008 crash demonstrates that in times of crisis – for some at least - opportunity knocks.

What separates these two business scenarios? Foresight, innovation, adaptability, agility? Yes to all of these, but also to positivity and the positive intent of those behind the business.

You – as an individual - can make a difference to the future of your business by looking at it through a different optic. One that’s half full.

Let’s go back to Brexit. One of the main arguments of the Leave campaign in the referendum was an immediate cost saving when the country no longer needed to contribute to the EU budget. Looking at it through a positive lens: if that statement proves to be true, that money must be put to good use. But even if it doesn’t exist, the Government that promised it will have to invest further to mobilise businesses in the UK who have slipped into deficit in recent months.

To date, announcements regarding the post Brexit business support landscape have been few and far between; inevitably overshadowed by the massive government spending to support the economy during the COVID crisis. But we can expect this to follow in the coming months as we move towards our exit and we can be pretty certain they’ll include a real focus on SMEs.

That’s because small and medium-sized businesses make up more than 99% of our economy, and UK PLC will want to fully mobilise this section of business to ensure the much-needed bounce-back from COVID. Some of the post EU savings will have been earmarked to invest in these businesses to ensure they are fit for international purpose and capable of contributing to the public purse.

So – good news - support is on its way. But we can’t expect the same inclusive state indulgence we’ve become used to in recent months. There will be constraints. The Exchequer needs to back winners. More than ever, state investment must be balanced against a quantitative return for the tax-payer. Now is the time for government to be commercial; to identify the real business opportunities and back them and the people behind them.

And that means it’s critical for businesses to prepare for investment and to demonstrate their ability to provide a return so they can feel positive about whatever is coming down the track.

As with all investment, being “best of breed” has advantages. To put your business in the best possible position to benefit when then time comes you need to strive to be the best of your breed. And that’s something proactive you can be doing right now.

Start by looking at the key aspects of your business that can really impact on your investment prospects and start preparing an action plan for any areas found wanting.

Those who lean towards negativity may miss the opportunity to act now, and they’ll ultimately find themselves in a feeding frenzy once the post Brexit support announcements are made.

But you don’t have to.

Lockdown is lifting; a second wave may come and an economic shift is inevitable. But there’s nothing stopping you having a positive mindset, seeking out opportunity and doing everything you can to make your business as relevant and resilient as possible.

Five Ways to Dramatically Improve Your Business Investment Potential

1. Understand your Proposition. 
Can you describe the purpose of your company? How you satisfy your market and how strong market demand is / could be? Be able to talk at length about the problem that your business solves and the size of the addressable market. Be able to demonstrate what makes you different from other businesses that ‘DO’ the same thing.

2. Be better. 
Not just different, but are you better than your competition? If the answer is no then you need to find a reason to be. If you can do it better, faster or in a way that delights customers more than your competitor then this is your USP …understand its value.

3. Know your numbers. 
How do you make money and how could you make more? Take a step back and do the maths. Is your business sustainable? Within the addressable market what is its potential. Where growth is possible, understand what you need to do to access it and reflect that back into the business plan. Keep in mind that whilst growth is everything, profit is more.

4. Build a "Go-to-Market" plan.
How will you take your business to market? A viable cost-effective plan will be critical to confidence. There is no manual for this; invest in support and be brave. Set yourself up from the outset to be best of breed and don’t settle for anything less.

5. Recognise that talent is everything. 
It will determine your business outcome more than any other decision in your businesses lifecycle. You may have a great product, but if your team doesn't have the right balance of personalities and skill sets, you’ll fail. Hire people who are passionate about the same things, people who are better than you (however uncomfortable that may feel) but most importantly, hire people who think differently than you. That way you’ll continue to be informed by and benefit from thinking beyond your own bubble.

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The Uncommon Practice exists to see things you don’t in order to make your business better than you could alone, so that you can grow faster and achieve more.
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