Unless you’ve been living on Mars, you’ll know that huge political changes have rocked the world in 2016. Post Brexit and President-elect Trump, global markets are in turmoil and businesses and entrepreneurs are anxious about what lies ahead...
Whether you’re willingly embracing change or fearful of it, one thing’s certain - change is happening.
So, what are some of the lessons we can take away from the year’s comings and goings?
Hire not fire
Many a debate has been sparked across the country about the impact Brexit will have on UK employment. According to a recent Jobs Outlook survey, more than a third of employers feel that economic conditions have worsened since the vote.
A large number of companies are holding off hiring new employees for the foreseeable, leading to a hiring ‘dip’ since June and a rise in planned redundancies in some cases. Yet the same report also revealed that 34 per cent of employers aren’t able to take on more work without hiring staff.
Lee McQueen, Managing Director of Raw Talent Academy, feels that cautious businesses are potentially missing out on some of the UK’s best talent. As nothing has changed yet, he advises businesses to carry on and not lose out because of Brexit.
Buck the trend
While post Brexit some companies are erring on the side of caution, others are throwing caution to the wind. For GlaxoSmithKline it’s business as usual as the firm invests £275m in expanding its UK manufacturing sites.
Although Chief Executive Sir Andrew Witty backed the Remain campaign, he believes the country is still an attractive business location, despite the vote. The UK’s skilled workforce and competitive tax system are major factors behind the investment decision and he also expects the expansion to boost jobs.
A French creperie in South Kensington - one of London’s most Euro-friendly neighbourhoods - has already had to adapt to the effects of Brexit, even though Brexit hasn’t actually happened yet.
General manager Michele Zavani used to source most of their produce from France. But when an order of cider from Brittany was delayed by two weeks and other suppliers started hiking up their prices, he began looking for substitutes closer to home.
Zavani is pleased that his local deliveries are proving to be faster and fresher. However, with English Stilton replacing French Roquefort, his next challenge will be keeping the French crepes tasting French. The idea of buying local is nothing new, but perhaps this issue will be of bigger importance to businesses now.
Keep the entrepreneurial spirit alive
Entrepreneurs have always been good at seeking out new, innovative ways of doing things when the old way doesn’t work.
Online Nordic and Baltic fashion retailer, Kristina Goes West knows how important it is to adapt, especially in the current climate.
"Since the world we live in is currently all about change, it’s very important for a business owner to be flexible and let its ego go. Compromise is inevitable if you want to move onwards," says owner Kristina Armonaite-Ashton.
She believes that as we move into 2017 it’s time to reflect, "on what and how we, as entrepreneurs, can do to see opportunities in a less stable environment, act on them, and help give something in return to society."
It seems that her resilience and positive outlook is shared.
The Entrepreneur’s Forum recently surveyed businesses based in the North East, finding them generally optimistic of the future. Only 10 per cent view Brexit as one of the challenges they expect to face in 2017.
Across the globe many businesses and entrepreneurs are seemingly taking a very British approach to the year’s upheaval. We’re 'Keeping Calm and Carrying On' like never before - even if this means 'carrying on' differently than before.
2016 has been a big learning curve in how to adapt and change with some positive learnings emerging. But if 2016 has taught us anything, it’s surely that what happens next is anyone’s guess.