This blog won’t be political, you can just scroll down my Twitter stream if you want to see my views/ frustrations with Brexit and the leadership (or lack there of!) our politicians are showing… This post is solely focusing on how as a business you can try and prepare as best you can in a period of huge confusion and lack of certainty.
As the clock ticks down, and actually now past, Brexit day (!), things are looking increasingly chaotic. We still don’t (yet) have an agreed deal with the EU, meaning that a no-deal exit is still on the cards; a senior EU negotiator described Parliament’s recent vote against leaving without a deal to be as meaningless as “the Titanic voting for the iceberg to get out of the way”.
With this in mind, it’s important to prepare for a no-deal Brexit or a very poor deal Brexit – and no, I don’t mean stockpile canned food and necessities. If your UK business trades within the EU, it’s crucial to take steps so that you’re prepared in the event of a no-deal/ poor deal scenario. If there is a no deal it’s likely that there will be significant disruption to commerce, even if you’re a tiny startup or small business. Transport and trade are likely to be severely affected by tighter border controls, and business regulations are set to change. Don’t be left high and dry; here are a few thoughts on how you can prepare for a no-deal/ poor deal Brexit.
Where can I find advice?
One of the best ways to stay on top of what’s happening is to check current advice. Even though our government hasn’t been doing a huge amount to support businesses in the event of a no deal/ poor deal, luckily, there are organisations doing lots to make sure businesses are informed about what Brexit will mean for them. There’s advice available for both established businesses looking to transition to new regulations, and advice if you’re thinking about starting a new business.
One of the most comprehensive sources of advice is the IoD, which has a hub dedicated to Brexit. As well as expert analysis and advice, you can also find details of talks and webinars where you can get advice tailored to your business. The information on it is excellent, it is really well worth checking out this hub.
Expect the best, prepare for the worst
Taking politics out of the situation, burying your head in the sand isn’t going to help matters. Unless there is a Peoples Vote/ second referendum, Brexit will happen in some form and it’s much better to go into things with your eyes wide open. Planning ahead also means that you can get paperwork (such as the EORI number, needed for any cross-border trade) sorted in advance, reducing the risk of delays. You’ll also be able to manage expectations better if Brexit, for example, causes backlogs at the border, or severely disrupts supply chains.
That being said, don’t panic! Find out what’s right for your sector/industry and business, speak to your relevant trade association, make sure you’re up-to-date on tariffs, customs regulations, and employment laws, and take this as an opportunity to give your whole business plan a general health check. Stay informed, and remember: knowledge is power, even if a lot of those in Westminster seem to be lacking on the knowledge front, it doesn’t mean you should!