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We know it can sometimes be lonely as a business owner or finance director. Who do you turn to with your everyday problems? Where can you discuss the things that are bugging you that you can’t really share with your team? That’s why we created CP Chats.

CP Chats is a gathering of likeminded people with common ideas and challenges. A real forum and an open discussion to share concerns. We recently hosted our first CP Chats at our Park View office in Solihull, inviting 15 business leaders to… well, have a chat. Here’s what they discussed.

Brexit was the big topic

Uncertainty around Brexit was a big topic. One attendee saying, “There’s one industry that’s benefitted from Brexit, and it’s the media.” Our group spoke about how Brexit uncertainty has been stressed by the media, perhaps irresponsibly. They likened it to the M42 motorway, which after Junction 6, always has a clear road. How do we know it’s not going to be clearer in the future? “The media are making us believe it’s constant traffic.”

Despite that, our attendees saw it as their responsibility to “talk things up and be confident”. The feeling was that business owners always have uncertainty, Brexit being just another thing. One attendee asked, “Remember the millennium bug that was going to ruin every business? Remember GDPR?”. Another added, “And anyway, as entrepreneurs, we see change as opportunity.”

What had leaders been doing differently since Brexit?

One attendee, who owns a Law firm, said, “Despite everything, we’re not seeing any shortages or slow-down at all.” People spoke about how we’re “brilliant at innovating as a country. We create. We invent. Our universities help empower people to come up with some of the best ideas.” So, will everything be fine after Brexit?

Maybe not. Several leaders spoke about the uncertainty surrounding Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), a big employer in the Midlands. Would it move its business elsewhere? As a response, business owners talked about how they’d diversified their businesses, deciding to buy more locally. They’d “hedged their bets” and expanded their services to work with other companies as well as the JLRs out there.

The challenge with this, as host and PKF Cooper Parry Tax Partner, Philip Rogers, suggested, is still managing to play to your strengths whilst diversifying. It raised a good question. People also spoke about the benefits of having an external perspective like a non-Executive Director during intense periods of change. (Or more forums like CP Chats, perhaps!)

Innovation and technology

We heard stories of businesses “automating” – where they’d turned some processes that were formerly done by a person into something done by a robot. One cleaning company had created a GPS App, which was able to clock cleaners in and out of their different jobs depending on their location.

E-commerce was recognised as important too. The “death of the high-street” was referred to. One business owner shared how a new website that was more user-friendly with smartphones was now worth 60% of business sales. Technology can come in all forms, a website being a simple one, but there was an overriding sense that “opportunities are everywhere to be innovative using tech”.

We finished with Philip Rogers posing another question – something we ask ourselves at PKF Cooper Parry. Philip said, “In the midst of change and lots of new stuff, is there anything you can stop doing?” We’ll leave you with that one to mull over.

If you’d like to know more about CP Chats or be invited to the next one, please get in touch.


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