(This a post I have written for the Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce for its Brighton Summit 2017 website. More information on the Brighton Summit 2017 and to book a place, please follow this link)
Death and taxes are the two certainties in life. All businesses need certainty. We need to understand the future so that we make the necessary plans. But so much is currently unknown – the consequences of Brexit and the outcome of the general election, to mention just two.
For some, Brexit will see a complete meltdown of the UK economy, regardless of who leads the negotiations. For others, in a hundred years the history books will say that Brexit saw a minor adjustment in the UK’s trading arrangements with its nearest neighbours.
Next week’s general election will bring some certainty, depending on the result which no longer appears to be the foregone conclusion that some felt it was just one month ago. A month ago I heard someone joke, regarding the next Prime Minister, that he wondered who she might be! The line was stolen from Obama who made the same crack about the US Presidential election, and look how that went.
Oh, for a glimpse of the future. But it is not to be. An old friend of mine could not see why we found merriment when he announced that he did not have crystal balls!
Many of these issues will be explored at the Brighton Summit 2017 on Friday, 13th October. The theme is ‘Embracing the Unknown’.
A critical issue for me is how the 2017-22 government will deliver on its housing agenda, and whether they can deliver the affordable homes needed for a healthy economy, particularly in areas like Brighton and Hove.
At BHT we are in the process of preparing our next five year business plan. We, of course, look well beyond just 5 years. We have recently completed our latest stock condition survey and are finalising our thirty year planned maintenance programme for our homes.
We would like to deliver new homes for rent. Much depends on land values, borrowing opportunities and interest rates. We don’t know what will happen to these, nor to interest rates.
But we will embrace the unknown. We can understand the risks facing the business, we can model worsening scenarios, and we can stress test the organisation to destruction. We do all that. Being risk aware, not risk averse, is how to move forward and grow. Yes, mistakes will be made along the way but as long as you get more right than wrong, you are reasonable in your judgements, you have risk strategies to mitigate the likelihood and consequences of things going wrong, you will get through.
And cash, as always, remains king. Lose control of your cash and you will sink.
The future, the advert used to say, is Orange. No longer. Orange became 3 (a daft name if ever there was one). The future is uncertain, but be ambitious, be aware, be courageous, and the future can be rosy.