UK and EU officials have recently agreed on the draft text of a Brexit agreement after several months of negotiations. Entrepreneurs and business executives are often asked how Brexit will affect their businesses, specifically small businesses.
Even companies that do not trade directly between the EU and UK, might find their supply chains disrupted or discover intellectual property protection no longer has any validity. While the impact of Brexit on small businesses remains unknown, there are practical steps you can take in the build-up to a final Brexit outcome.
Each and every business is different and will face challenges, but there are precautions you can take to prepare for uncertain times. In this article, we’ll reveal 9 areas your startup or small business should focus on to protect itself from any possible Brexit fallout.
1. Remain calm
While this may seem obvious, in times of upheaval, a business owner can feel pressured to make rash decisions which can have a long-term impact on business operations. There’s no doubt that Brexit will impact relations between the UK and EU. However, it is best to move with caution and think through each action.
Remaining calm and composed will not only help your business run smoothly but it will also show clients and customers you are agile. While you remain calm, reassure your employees and customers that you’ll work it out – whatever comes your way.
2. Invest in customs expertise
It’s a smart move to think more strategically about customs and trade. It’s necessary to file customs declarations for all goods, both imported to, and exported from, the UK. This requires updates to business operations software, which could involve lengthy lead times.
If you trade across borders you will need to ensure your internal systems communicate with both the EU’s customs technology and a new UK system. This is a significant step for all daily operational activities.
3. Look at funding
For example, it might be a good idea for Irish companies to consider applying for Government or Enterprise Ireland funding to support the diversification of business models, including the exploration of new markets. You may need to lodge customs declarations, as well as managing other administration and compliance issues. It’s crucial for businesses to be prepared for a hard Brexit and a worst-case scenario.
4. Broaden your recruitment pool
This may be one of the many important issues small businesses face post-Brexit – potentially downsizing your workforce. Also, it’s a good time to consider broadening your access to the global labor market, as well as increasing pay to allow for any new migration restrictions.
5. Spread the risk
Panicking is the worst thing you can do now. Take measures to reduce the risk to your business. If you are dependent on a single order or one large contract for most of your revenue, or if you conduct business mainly with EU-based companies, start sourcing additional customers to help spread the risk.
6. Crack down on late payments
Make sure you have a steady cash flow. If you are dealing with customers who have failed to pay their accounts for some time, look into contracting outside assistance to help bring in those payments.
7. Review your intellectual property
Post-Brexit, businesses should be aware that the details of an intellectual property, such as patents, trademarks, registered designs, and copyright could change. According to the British government’s Brexit IP website, companies have been told that protections will continue to apply in the EU post-Brexit, but does not give the same assurances for the UK.
The UK is exploring options in other IP areas, like trademarks and designs. If you want to protect your existing rights in the UK after it leaves the EU, you must act quickly.
8. Consider new opportunities
It’s a possibility that Brexit can bring new opportunities for businesses. Even though you may lose workers and business from the EU, there are likely to be opportunities in other countries as new trade deals are established. It’s always good to stay up to date and be aware of which countries the UK is looking to do business with in the future. You never know which new doors will open.
9. Create a game plan
The best way to prepare for Brexit is to get a head start on your business plan. This will allow you to cope with whatever comes your way. Even though Brexit may have a minimal impact on your business, it’s still necessary to take practical steps and rethink your business strategy.
Act quickly to ensure you can protect your small business against any possible fallout from Brexit. The nature of your business will determine the steps you take to prepare for Brexit. Think through the worst and best case scenarios, and remember to stay calm and carry on.
Usman Raza is the CEO and founder of Usman Digital Media. He has been writing for magazines and newspapers since 2001, and editing and managing websites since 2006. Usman has a BA in Business Development, Philosophy, and English. A generalist, his most covered topics are business and technology. When not working, he’s probably spending time with his family. Connect with @usmanintrotech on Twitter.