Thanks in no small part to the internet, even SMEs are now able to work globally. And while America always beckons for UK businesses, most of us start out building markets and relationships closer to home, and that means Europe. If we don’t have customers overseas, then it’s highly likely that we have suppliers – or that our suppliers do.
Despite the continuing disputes and delays, Brexit just keeps moving inexorably closer, with little doubt left that the UK will leave the European Union. No one yet knows what that will really mean for business. So, what can you do to make sure that your company is ready for everything that the political break with Europe may throw at us?
5 Steps to Ready Your Business for Brexit
1. Check your supply chains. It’s easy to forget, when things are going well, that your business is only as strong as your weakest supplier. Because while you may have the wherewithal to recover after a small disruption to your order books, if you’re unable to find an alternative solution quickly, the long-term losses could be significant. So, now is the time to take precautions. Talk to your partners and suppliers about how ready they are for Brexit. If you – or they – rely on imported goods, research alternative suppliers now, so you have a back-up plan should the worst happen. And keep the conversation going, because the only certain thing amidst all the current uncertainty is uncertainty. The situation is fluid and business circumstances will inevitably change.
2. Keep adequate cashflow. One of the most talked about concerns around Brexit is the potential financial implications. Will Import VAT change? Will we face other, unforeseen price hikes and levies? It’s always sensible to have a healthy cashflow for any business – easily accessible funds not tied up in wages, or stock or investment. That’s doubly important while the uncertainty is still so present.
3. Maintain staff levels. Another highly discussed area of Brexit is the likely ramifications for employment. If you rely on an overseas workforce, you may find it difficult to hire more staff. Equally, if the number of EU workers in the UK reduces, there could be greater demand for British workers in numerous sectors, meaning that maintaining a skilled workforce could become problematic. The best way to prepare for this is to make sure that you keep on top of your current recruitment, so that when Brexit happens, you’re in the most sustainable position for the future.
4. Spread your risk and go global. If, until now, your expansion goals have concentrated upon Europe, it could be time to spread your wings and reduce your risks by addressing a broader, global market. While cracking America is notoriously difficult and takes enormous planning, there are other markets to consider, and if global expansion reduces the risk of any trading directly with EU businesses, it will be worth the long-term effort.
5.Develop a contingency plan. It’s always a good rule to expect the unexpected in business, but with something with such potential to create such volatility on the cards as Brexit, then not having a plan for alternative futures is bordering on negligence. For my business, LatestFreeStuff.co.uk, I’ve already laid the foundations for a US launch, which means that any instability in the UK will have a lower impact. But I’m also looking at working with partners in other locations to ensure that my UK customers aren’t neglected. It’s impossible to plan for everything, but in keeping open communication across the company, I’m ready to listen and adapt as my business demands.
Deepak Tailor is founder of LatestFreeStuff, the UK's largest freebie website.
The online platform provides freebies, competitions and deals from the leading brands all in one place. Deepak is also author of the bestselling book ' How To Live For Free.' which achieved bestseller on Amazon within 4 days of release.