Can Stepping Stone Strategies Counter the Uncertainty of Brexit for Businesses?

Can Stepping Stone Strategies Counter the Uncertainty of Brexit for Businesses?

Ever since the UK’s decision to leave the EU was announced at the end of June 2016, it has introduced a lot of uncertainty. For individuals, businesses and more, the ongoing negotiations will have a big impact on daily life after the end of March 2019 when the UK should have officially left the EU.

Businesses large and small have been putting plans in place to ensure they can get through all the uncertainty and challenges Brexit has introduced. In the coming months and years many different strategies to tackle this will be used by companies across many sectors and a stepping stone approach could prove successful.   

The Impact of a Stepping Stone Strategy

A stepping stone strategy is pretty much what it sounds like. Rather than businesses making sudden changes to grow or deal with new challenges, they make small adaptations as they go along. This allows the effect of all such changes to be reviewed. If they are successful then the next steps can be implemented, if they aren’t then they can be reversed.

Whenever there is a big shift that can affect all types of businesses is the most appropriate time for stepping stone strategies to be used. One of the best examples was in the early days of the internet emerging. As RSM explains in greater detail, for the publishing industry the beginning and growth of the internet was a massive challenge.

Using the example of HarperCollins, rather than instantly moving all their operations online, they put into place a plan based on a series of path-dependent strategic choices. This avoided getting caught in the early days of the dotcom bubble and helped them make the most of digital over a few transitional years.

Applying it to Tackle Brexit’s Challenges

There are many questions that businesses need to ask themselves and answer around Brexit. From the impact of currency volatility to supply chains and any tariffs introduced as part of future trade deals, a clear plan is required to appropriately deal with each one.

Some companies have claimed they will move all operations overseas once Brexit hits or in the run up to it, which is the opposite to a stepping stone approach. Making such a big move all in one go can introduce a lot of risk. Instead, making smaller decisions on a step-by-step basis can help deal with many of the questions posed.

For example, switching suppliers to a UK-based alternative could reduce the risks of expensive tariffs being introduced for importing from abroad. Or at least seeking out back-up options just in case.

Making big changes in a short space of time could unsettle your business and be unnecessary depending on how Brexit plays out. Taking a slower approach and tackling each challenge at a time may be a more effective strategy.