CLA Midlands Adviser Blog: rural business resilience


CLA Midlands Rural Surveyor John Greenshields talks about how to begin the process of making your business more resilient to Brexit.

In the intervening period since the vote there has been a lot of rhetoric and political gesturing, and given the distraction of the General Election there has been very little progress.

Whatever the results of this Brexit process will be, those of us in the countryside must be realistic in the assessment that we will have less of an impact than we should. Therefore it is essential farmers and rural business owners should first assess their own unique business before looking out to the ever changing uncontrollable world. Irrespective of one's opinion on the outcome of the vote, it represents an indispensable opportunity to conduct an overdue critical review your rural business.

Today must be the day for a review of your  business, to honestly assess where you are today, where you want to be and how to get there.

In order to help facilitate this process it is essential to get an external professional with fresh eyes to challenge you in a considerate facilitating manner because change is coming and we better change otherwise we will be forced to change. This change will become ever more costly as improvements and decisions are delayed, with a subsequent loss of agricultural subsidies. This coupled with changes to our trade arrangement can have devastating consequences as a 10% shift in the market price represents a 50% change in subsidies.

Initially I would urge everyone to analyse and expand on the below equation.

Profit (margin) = output (partial control) – costs (fully controllable)

With subsequent questions relating to your (and your family’s) objectives and ownership, current business assets and liabilities, your skills/shortfalls and those of your staff, how is it being run and whole does the whole business work towards profit.

All these questions will form the foundations of plans which are personal to you, your business and will change with the constantly changing world. But once you have begun the process you will have the information available to make decisions that will create a profitable and resilient business suitably fit to survive future unknown challenges and provide a suitable standard of living. The message is that today you must start assessing your business, especially as farms have a lag time of several years until a change can be implemented.

Please take professional advice which the Government is subsidising as part of their ‘Brexit proofing strategy,’ but it isn’t the Government who is responsible for your business it is you. In addition to a business review the CLA are always available to provide impartial professional advice or even just to provide some support in the process.

For anyone who is interested the CLA Midlands region will be putting on a number of resilience related events in 2020 this matter. I would also recommend that people look through the CLA’s No Deal Brexit Advice Pack, regardless of political developments.