8 business executives share their thoughts on the way forward under a Trump presidency

Photo: Jedd Kowalsky/ AFP/ Getty Images.

Donald Trump is president-elect of the United States of America.

Already this morning you have probably read anguished social media posts ranting about the end of the world as we know it.

Wake up people, this is business for you. Get up and get on with it.

To give you an idea of what Australian business people are thinking about in terms of the way forward under a Trump presidency, we asked a handful of executives to share their thoughts.

Here’s what they had to say.

Andre Eikmeier, co-founder and joint CEO of Vinomofo

Sure, we were all a bit devastated last night, mostly sad about how disillusioned and fearful such a large portion of the population is over there (and indeed everywhere in the world, it seems).

But we’re in the midst of planning our US launch in the first half of next year, and this doesn’t really change things from our perspective. You have to keep your eye on the prize. For us, it’s about growing a tribe of people united by a shared love of wine, and a shared belief in the way the world should be. Much of which isn’t supported by Trump, but that’s okay. It’s shared by a lot of people. They’re the people we’re looking for. Sure, they may live in California and they may be emancipated by the time we get over there – we’ll roll with that too :)

As founders building a new business, you work with the playing field you’ve got. You disrupt it if that’s what brings about good change. This is just a new playing field over there, or perhaps it’s always been the true playing field.

Proceed with disruption!

Michael Fox, co-founder of Shoes of Prey

The US has now elected a president who has floated the idea of 45% trade tariffs between the US and China. This is a policy, which if enacted, would be a disaster for much of the world.

International trade, the opening up of the Chinese economy has driven the largest movement of people out of poverty in human history. International aid plays an important role in the world, but it didn’t do what the incredible graph at that link shows, international trade did. Companies like Shoes of Prey are critical to this trend continuing.

It’s incredibly disappointing that the US has not elected its first female president and has instead chosen someone who embodies many of the worst traits of masculinity.

At Shoes of Prey we take pride in the number of women we employ, particularly in areas like our female dominated software engineering team, a traditionally male arena. We will do more here.

We recently began an ongoing marketing campaign to celebrate women who have through sheer determination and smarts, achieved great things. We chose to do this because we know that shoes don’t change the world – it’s the women who walk in them that do.

Brett Isenberg, general manager at Octet

Economically speaking, Trump has made it very clear his two major focuses are to streamline US taxes into 3 brackets, effectively giving tax breaks to the top and bottom brackets, and bring back manufacturing back to continental US. Trump even alluded to the fact that he would like to see companies like Apple manufacture locally, weighing up the introduction of import tariffs to enforce this.

Tech manufacturers tend to rely on lean supply chains, offshoring and heavy outsourcing to keep both expenses down and spread the risk of IP being stolen, so the introduction of import tariffs may put some serious pressure on them.

Fred Schebesta, CEO of finder.com

I think that Trump winning is one of the most inspirational things for any business. It shows the power of great PR and the power of believing in yourself regardless of how many people try to take you down.

I think that business people should look at it and take on bigger goals and believe in themselves and figure out how to go and get their goals.

Anything is possible.

Adam Stone, founder of Speedlancer

We believe that Trump is likely to be more reasonable in office than when he was campaigning, especially when tempered by Congress.

Speedlancer is registered in Delaware. We will be watching to see if Trump maintains the Aussie-only e3 visa and pushes for more startup/entrepreneurship visas or if that is against his (seemingly anti) immigration agenda too. As a global business, we’ll be hoping the president-elect’s business experience will lead toward positive policy for entrepreneurs.

Martin Hosking, CEO Redbubble

The transition to a Trump presidency, like Brexit, reflects democracy in action. Above and beyond the individual issues and the individuals, the powerful message is that democracy allows societies to adapt, to do the unexpected and for the unconventional to occur. This is the resilience of our democratic system – in giving a forum for the people to truly speak they allow for change and if this change does not work then it will in turn be changed.

Richard Kimber, CEO and group managing director at OFX

While the initial reaction was of shock and fear, the conciliatory tone of the victory speech has demonstrated that some of Trump’s more inflammatory rhetoric designed to motivate voters may have been just that – rhetoric. The fact that the Republicans had a clean sweep, also winning the house and the senate, means that Trump as president will be in a position to put through reforms to stimulate the world’s largest economy which could be positive for Australian business.

Trump has always valued the military’s role in the US. Strong military ties with the US and Australia’s unique position as a close ally country means that Australia may be able to strengthen our trade deals in exchange for continued military cooperation.

While the US is Australia’s fourth biggest export destination, it is our second-most important source on imports behind China. If Trump can make the US a more economic producer of goods then there may be a scenario where Australia has access to a wider range of better priced imports from the US which may serve to stimulate the Australian economy.

An increase in industrialisation in the US may also lead to an spike in demand for commodities and base metals, a field in which Australia has traditionally benefited.

Chris Gilbert, co-founder of Equitise

In recent times large scale shakeups in global events such as Trump winning US presidency, Britain exiting the European Union and the Global Financial Crisis back in 2008, create huge uncertainty in markets and politics.

With this uncertainty is also the opportunity to create new industry and look at new and improved ways of going about solving problems for businesses, both large and small. I certainly think there is a silver lining to this cloud currently hanging over our heads.

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