Whilst the 31st January 2020 is the expected date for the UK's exit from the European Union, there are ways in which a business can prepare for Brexit right now. Below, we have listed nine ways you can start to mitigate the potential risks to your business and how you can make sure you retain your customers.
Further down the page, you can also find downloads from other sources of help, such as the British Chambers of Commerce, that provide practical checklists for you and your business to work through.
1. Be flexible
It may sound simple, but having that element of reactivity within your business will serve you well when changes specific to your business begin to happen. SMEs may find this slightly easier than a large business, particularly when instigating new changes that are needed.
As the potential of a 'No Deal' is still a possibility, businesses should make sure they know what this will mean to them.
Make sure that someone within your business, usually at a senior level, is regularly checking for the latest Brexit news using reliable information.
2. Make sure your customers feel reassured
Your customers are your priority - they keep your business going. Some of your customers may voice concerns about service continuity, consistence in supply or changes in price of goods or services. Although changes are highly likely, you can keep the conversations with your customers going by reassuring them of your intention to remain competitive, mitigate any risks and generally take care of their needs.
3. Prepare for potential workforce impacts
There will be some changes to the employment regulations no any non-UK EU employees you may have working for your business. You may find it useful to provide any employees that fit this criteria with an information pack on how they can find out more information about the UK Settlement Scheme.
This is also something you will need to think about when taking on new employees, by making sure you have the information available to answer their questions.
4. Review your Supply Chain and Key Business partners
In the event of a 'No-Deal' Brexit, you may experience changes to tariffs on goods you bring into the UK, as well as potential impacts on the timings and speed for bringing products into the UK. You may also encounter changes to rates of VAT and it could be a good time to consider your current suppliers and key business partners.
Now may be a good time to review your current supply chain end to end, and if you haven't done so already, make sure you understand the journey your goods take from start to finish when moving across between places.
In terms of key business partners, you may consider the types of companies that you engage with that may be key to supporting Brexit changes, such as Banks, insurance companies and other providers. Speak to your existing providers and make sure their plans are aligned with your own.
5. Check your current contracts
Some of the clauses in your existing contracts might be subject to EU laws, which are likely to change once the the UK leaves the EU. These may be impacted by currency fluctuations, importing or exporting costs, and supplier preferences.
It is critical that you have accurate trade data and that your business has an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number if your clear goods through UK customs or move goods in or out of the UK.
6. Check the Trade Data you currently have
Trade data can be any information in relation to economic and trade policy issues. The position for the UK to begin to trade in the event of a no-deal EU exit will be established under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules. These would require an import declaration would be needed along with customs formalities, customs duties to pay and checks which would be carried out when trading with the EU.
You will need to keep your trade data up to date, to help with changes such as border control.
7. Look at the current government schemes
There are already Government backed schemes in place to help businesses trade outside of the EU, such as Trusted Trader, customs warehousing and inward processing. You could consider opting into or partnering onto these types of schemes, to assist you with any more complex processes in the future.
8. Watch out for currency value changes
With changeable economic climate, the value of currency is likely to fluctuate for some time, particularly in a period of political uncertainty. When planning financially, it can be difficult to forecast and estimate. You can consult the advice of your accountant, bank or financial adviser, who may be able to suggest ways to lower your exposure to currency exchange changes.
9. Consider your supply chain and support providers
By sharing best practice with your supply chain and key business partners - banks, insurers and systems providers suppliers and by working together to plan for multiple scenarios, you can share the risk and the burden. When trading in a disrupted market, consider joint ventures and cooperative approaches.