Strategies for Profitable Growth
On 20th February 2016, the British Prime Minister announced that an in/out referendum on the UK’s continued membership of the European Union would be held on 23rd June of the same year. The die was cast for an extraordinary period of British, European and even global economic history which combined political chaos with a prolonged state of Brexit stasis in the United Kingdom and unprecedented uncertainty for businesses from around the world operating in the UK and the EU.
Within this emerging and dynamic context, the Outside Fortress Europe Research Project was initiated by Colin Edward Egan, management academic and economics advisor, to build upon the research of the already established Strategic Management Think Tank, a discussion forum exploring global business and marketing strategies in developed and emerging markets.
The Outside Fortress Europe Research Project
The Outside Fortress Europe Research Project has its roots and development in advanced MBA electives on subjects including International Business, Global Business Strategies, Marketing and Organisational Behaviour alongside ongoing longitudinal research into the practical challenges faced by companies engaged in international trade.
The resulting publications from the initiative provide a collective ‘sequel’ to the Economist Intelligent Unit/Addison-Wesley commissioned 1993 book, Inside Fortress Europe: Strategies for the Single Market, co-authored by Colin Edward Egan and Peter McKiernan. That text explored the contrasting strategies of Japanese, American and European companies as they prepared for the formation of the European Single Market, which came into effect on 1st January 1993, the UK being one of twelve countries within the newly-created trading bloc, the European Union.
Colin Edward Egan (2021)
Outside Fortress Europe: Strategies for the Global Market (2e)
Rugby: Strategic Management Think Tank.
Twenty-five years after the publication of Inside Fortress Europe, it seemed appropriate to reflect on the UK’s momentous decision to leave the now enlarged twenty-eight Member State European Union. The country had elected to embark on its new international trade adventure in the context of a markedly different global business environment which had evolved since the excitement of the infamous ‘1992 Process’ towards greater European economic integration, which had begun in the late 1980s.
This ‘sequel’ to Inside Fortress Europe: Strategies for the Single Market was published in December 2018. A 2nd edition was published in December 2021. Its discussion relates to companies from all countries, of all sectors and of all sizes.
Outside Fortress Europe: Strategies for the Global Market is a book written for an experienced, inquiring manager audience and/or an MBA/post-MBA/DBA/PhD readership.
British business manifesto
British Business Manifesto: Strategies for Profitable Growth is a new book scheduled for publication in September 2023. It is derived from the Outside Fortress Europe Research Project and is written for a practitioner/functional-specialist readership and is ideal for the Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (SME) management audience.
Colin Edward Egan, forthcoming, September 2023
British Business Manifesto: Strategies for Profitable Growth
As the Outside Fortress Europe Research Project progressed, a key observation was the extraordinary lack of preparedness of UK companies for whatever ‘type’ of Brexit would be ultimately determined, especially amongst SMEs. Most advice and support has focused excessively on short-term compliance and operational issues at the expense of understanding the strategic challenges and required solutions for sustainable business strategy success and profitable growth.
Extensive management research (including numerous meta-analysis articles which statistically examine data from a number of independent studies on the same subject) has proven that a deep understanding of the following areas of management theory and practice can significantly contribute to long-term global and domestic business strategy success.
- Business environment sensitivity: Identifying opportunities and off-setting threats.
- Analysing global and domestic markets: Customer insights and competitor intelligence.
- Innovation and entrepreneurship: Dynamic pathways to growth and high performance.
- Strategic marketing: Selecting and serving target market segments effectively and efficiently.
- Strategic brand management: Building and sustaining a competitive edge.
- Integrated marketing communications: Managing customer relationships.
- Planning processes: Designing competitively differentiated ‘Go-to-Market’ plans.
- Building customer-focused organisational capabilities: Developing distinctive capabilities, exploiting strengths and neutralising weaknesses. Implementing creative strategies.
Please click/tap the British Business Manifesto: The Book tab of the Main Menu for deep insights into the subject and topic arenas that these broad management disciplines embrace. A chapter in the book is dedicated to each one.
Beyond Brexit Strategy
Companies should be preparing now for exploiting the opportunities which international business developments will bring as new trade deals are struck while at the same time building barriers against the looming threats from an uncertain and nervy customs relationship with the EU following the post-Brexit transition period.
Furthermore, British companies pursuing purely domestic business strategies should bolster themselves for the fierce competitive winds that those newly negotiated international trade agreements will bring to the UK market: after all, international free trade is a two-way street.
Front-line issues of international trade relate directly to the ‘Three Cs’ of competitive markets:
Success under these conditions will ultimately be determined by addressing the following five key business strategy ‘themes’:
- Delivered stakeholder value
- Strategic clarity
- Operational excellence
- Flexible organization
- Innovation & entrepreneurship
These themes feature throughout British Business Manifesto: Strategies for Profitable Growth. The book combines strategy principles and proven frameworks, processes and tools to guide companies towards building sustainable competitive advantages.
Covid-19 Business Strategy Alert
While the book overview presented above drew attention to the lack of strategic preparedness of British businesses for the competitive threats lurking within the framework of international trade agreements, especially those from the SME sector, its tone is optimistic. The principal conclusion is that British companies have the opportunity to develop the necessary capabilities for success during the post-Brexit transition negotiations and beyond.
And then the Covid-19 tsunami landed, locking companies down precisely when they needed to ramp up.
Without a doubt, the immediate priorities for SMEs as Covid conditions are eased and businesses begin to ‘breathe’ again will be operational in nature, not strategic in the way in which they are presented in British Business Manifesto.
But for British SMEs (regardless of whether they export or not), traditional and new rivals may well have a head start in the post-Covid competitive arena.
Regarding traditional competitors, the legendary German Mittlestand companies and the ‘hidden champions’ of northern Italy, Austria, Slovenia, Turkey etc. pose an immediate threat. These are unknown ‘no-name’ SMEs typically supplying high-end B2B segments in global markets.
Meanwhile, Chinese SMEs exporting from huge industrial estates and distributing through marketplace platforms such as Amazon systematically target low-end price-sensitive markets in the UK.
British SMEs now face the classic strategy dilemma of being squeezed: they potentially have uncompetitive quality for high-end segments and uncompetitive costs for low-end, price-sensitive market sectors.
Following the general election of 12th December 2019, the UK left the EU on 31st January 2020. Like all messy divorces, there has been an uncomfortable transition as the former partners find their feet (and their friends) in its aftermath.
But long before these issues are resolved, companies should have their strategies, plans and contingencies in place. That business strategy challenge is exactly what British Business Manifesto: Strategies for Profitable Growth aims to address. We discuss the theories, concepts, frameworks, processes and tools which will guide smart managers running intelligent companies towards global and domestic business strategy success.