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Brexit proofing your business

March 3, 2019

By Gareth Smyth, CEO, Hilton Smythe Group

Gareth Smythe CEO Hilton Smythe Group

I know the news has been fairly quiet about it recently, but you might recall the small matter of Brexit, and what it might mean to small businesses in the UK.

As business brokers, the team at Hilton Smythe regularly speak to small business owners, or those looking to move in to running their own business, and understandably, people are a little concerned as to what the future holds after 29 March 2019.

However, Brexit presents an opportunity for the high streets to thrive, and to remind the public about good old British retail.

There are many ways that small businesses can plan for the future, even when there is still uncertainty in the air.

Buying British

As of the time of writing, the finer details of how import and export will work post-Brexit is still anyone’s guess. This means, if your business is reliant on buying in products exclusively from the EU, you will potentially be impacted by an increased import tariff.

Looking now to try and find UK stockists and manufacturers could help to soften the blow if and when it happens. This will also have the added bonus of supporting businesses within the UK and boosting our economy.

Securing a workforce

Many firms are concerned that Brexit will drive skilled workers from our shores, or won’t attract UK-born employees. Smart small businesses will see where there’s an opportunity to encourage workers, particularly young people, into jobs that can blossom into careers.

Trades, such as plumbing businessesgarageshair salons, and construction firms all offer the opportunity to train staff on the job, starting at a lower level and working their way up, potentially on a ‘learn as you earn’ basis.

This also future-proofs the workforce, as it gives a consistent source of skilled workers and staff in training to keep the business evolving.

Love your customers

Customer loyalty is a fantastic way of keeping your business ticking over. If your customers love you they will follow you, even in times of uncertainty.

Ensuring you respect your clients, and provide gold standard service will see repeat custom and strong word-of-mouth recommendations, which will attract clients to you, even when times are tough.

Although multinational and online-only firms are renowned for providing products at discounted prices, there’s a lot to be said for the personality and human touch that you can provide.

Be a business that fights 

Many businesses are concerned about what will happen post-Brexit, and it has caused a fight, flight or freeze response. Businesses that freeze just stay stagnant, not wanting to take any action until April, playing the wait and see game.

Having a bit of fight might just keep you afloat. Look into marketing yourself in the local area, reminding potential customers that you are still there. You could also consider running small local community events to increase your profile, including adopting a local charity, providing a meeting space for clubs or societies, or providing your services for free or a lower cost to less fortunate people.

While it might seem counter-intuitive to spend any money that is not absolutely necessary, it is forward planning to establish yourself as a strong business that is ready to weather whatever Brexit storm is on the horizon.

Don’t panic!

An unknown situation, like Brexit, can cause significant distress, simply because you don’t know what to expect. However, if you keep your head, plan the very best you can, and provide for your customers, you will be in the best position possible come leaving day.

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