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Brexit negotiations have come down to the wire. We are now mere days from the end of the transition period.

Whether that is concluded with or without a deal (at time of writing negotiations were continuing), many will believe that there has been more than enough time to negotiate the terms of such a deal (pandemic aside).

Especially as the eleventh-hour nature of these conversations has added even more pressure for business leaders who have already experienced their most challenging year ever.

Whatever the outcome, there will be more challenges for businesses to face in the coming weeks and months.

Therefore, it is little surprise that post transition readiness amongst businesses is low – data from our membership noting that close to a third (29{9fdcce03dc006ba6aefbae291db7d19e2674997f46d46055bf64c42b760b042b}) are unsure they will be prepared for it by the end of the year.

How could they be? They do not know what to prepare for.

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While it may be understandable that Brexit has taken somewhat of a back seat to Covid, for those businesses that rely on the EU for its extensive supply chain network, customer base and access to skilled workers, this uncertainty will only create more worry around ongoing profitability and, for many, viability.

I certainly don’t envy the people that have been trying to negotiate over the last year, especially amid a pandemic. However, in a year where business leaders have had to rip up the rule book and plan, pivot and reset on multiple occasions, it is not too much to expect our political leaders to do the same.

And as we move into a new year, we need to be able to better predict what conditions business leaders will have to cope with and clear communications will be crucial.

As hard as the business community has been hit over the last 10 months, and as well as the business sector has responded, it cannot continue to operate effectively without that clarity.

As such, it’s vital that no matter the position we are left with on the 31st December as we sign off to see the bells in, that business leaders know that they can expect from both Scottish and UK governments the extra support and guidance to survive and, hopefully, prosper.

Above all, clarity and some consistency is crucial to allow the business community to plan, move forward and get back to growth as quickly as possible.

That’s not to say the path to growth will be straightforward; we must still be ready to be agile and to flex our models as best we can to address the inevitable issues that 2021 will bring.

Indeed, it is likely that agility and flexibility will be central to success as business leaders navigate continued external challenges. This is one of the positive things to emerge from the pandemic (note I use the word positive very loosely).

The last year has not allowed any one of us to stagnate – every business leader has been compelled to think on their feet more than they have ever done before.

Protecting their employees, supply chains, and their customers from the challenges of Covid is very much baked into their DNA and this means that they are now far better prepared to deal with the unpredictable.

While Brexit may bring more initial uncertainty, businesses must be clear on what they need to do to prepare where they possibly can. But this also relies on the government to hold up their end of the bargain and support people, businesses and the economy as we embark on a post-EU journey.

As 2020 draws to a close and we resolve to make 2021 a much happier year for all, let’s do our level best to improve our engagement with each other; to really focus on effective communication to help Scotland move forward into a new, more dynamic and sustainable position where we all have a role to play and a difference to make.

Aidan O’Carroll is the Chairman of the Institute of Directors Scotland



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Post Author: EDONS