The Impact of Brexit on SMEs

The Impact of Brexit on SMEs

The date for Brexit is fast approaching – and the uncertainty is palpable.

Will the UK be leaving the EU on 29th March 2019, or will it be extended? What kind of deal will we be leaving Europe with? Will we be given a second referendum?

While it’s obviously difficult to foretell the future, Brexit is sure to have an impact on small businesses.

We asked fellow business owners their tips on how they’re planning to survive Britain leaving the EU, how much it will impact them moving forward, and how businesses should plan to face these challenges head on.


Treat your workforce properly

When an employee is treated unfairly, it decreases morale, and can have a potentially devastating impact on your business. If you want your business to survive leaving the EU then you need to make sure you’re treating your employees with the respect they deserve. Doing so will not only increase productivity and efficiency, it will boost team morale.

Paul Mizen, Managing Director of The Recruit Venture Group, has stated that one of the best ways to get through Brexit is by making sure that managers and senior staff are treating their workforce properly, to reduce the chance of your best people leaving you in turbulent times:

“We know that finding workers has become more difficult – you can’t argue with the trends we are seeing in the recruitment industry; it is getting harder to find the staff a business needs. As an SME, the right people are so important. If you have a good team make sure you take the time to keep them. With the shortage of skilled and unskilled labour, replacing good people is very difficult, so it’s vital you keep your workers engaged by treating them properly.”


Don’t get caught up in the negativity

News platforms have been saturated with negative news about Britain leaving the EU – you need to make sure yourself and your employees are trying to distance yourself from the sensationalism of Britain leaving the EU, and focussing on what’s important.

Paul Mizen reaffirms the importance of focusing on business goals rather than getting lost in negativity:

“I hear lots of people who are too focused on Brexit. The best performing SMEs I have

worked with since the vote to leave the EU are the ones who keep their sights set on their KPIs. Doing what you are best at is the way to grow your business and Brexit should not change that.”

“You might have to work smarter and harder than before to maintain growth but being overly pessimistic breeds negativity. There is a lot to be said to staying positive when others around you are profits of doom. Clients like to hear good news not the same old negative outlook.”

Business mentor William Buist adds to this, suggesting that employees and business owners need to make sure that they are staying informed and up-to-date with the important aspects of Brexit, and understanding just how biased news outlets can be:

“Keep yourself informed as we approach March 2019 so that you can take action quickly, should it be needed. Treaties can be hard to read, and media reports can be biased by editorial policy, so find sources and well informed advisors who can give you an independent, reliable, opinion. The right knowledge and expertise will give you a competitive advantage.”

Finally, remember that it needn’t be all doom and gloom – Brexit can potentially open up opportunities alongside challenges. Business mentor Kathy Ennis makes the point that businesses could be looking to create new trade partnerships with non-EU countries:

“There is a lot of business to be had outside Europe. ONS statistics show that the value of UK exports to countries outside the EU is higher than the value to EU block. The Middle East, Asia and traditional allies such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand are strong, potential trading partners.”


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Sadly, small businesses owners can’t just wait for Brexit to blow over. Planning will be key to surviving and thriving anything that comes across the next few years.

Sarah Brown from Solopreneur Growth Club has stated the importance of looking for vulnerabilities and putting procedures in place that will alleviate the impact.

In the build up to Britain leaving the EU, it’s important that you look at the pain points of their business, and how their everyday running might be impacted. Once you’ve found these vulnerabilities, you can put a plan of action in place.

Sarah says, “ensuring you have cash in the bank if you are relying on payments from companies around the time of Brexit when people may be focused on other things is crucial. You also need to make sure you’re looking at the vulnerabilities of your business and those in your supply chain and your customers, and for any that may be impacted if trade is delayed.”

William Buist further reinforces this, and says that building relationships with other suppliers will help to balance out risk:

“For all key supply (products, services, etc.) in your business, investigate and build relationships with alternative suppliers so that you are ready to move quickly. If the supply is critical to your ability to trade then manage the risk by making guaranteed supply agreements, stockpiling, or adapting your products to reduce reliance on that critical supply. Risk management is vital.”


Don’t let uncertainty stifle innovation

There’s an inundated amount of uncertainty when it comes to Britain leaving the EU, and that’s to be expected. However, it’s crucial that businesses are not stifling innovation and creativity in the wake of Brexit – we don’t know what is going to happen until we get there.

Rebecca Newenham, Founder and Director of Get Ahead VA, reinforces this:

“The big thing about Brexit is the uncertainty. No one really knows what’s going to happen. But we can’t let that stifle innovation. To survive (and thrive), SMEs need to remain agile. Outsourcing enables you to respond quickly to market changes, buying in services exactly when you need them, without tying yourself into long term contracts and costs.”

If you need some further help and advice, feel free to get in touch with us; we help SMEs to implement a marketing strategy that can generate leads, convert opportunities and improve customer retention.