A year after the Brexit referendum, we asked South West businesses key questions about its impact – we reflect on their views and offer our advice on how to be ready to make the most of Brexit in 2018.
Question 1 | What puts you off exploring markets outside the EU?
“Business owners are concerned about understanding local markets, identifying opportunities, having the right contacts and mitigating legal risk, but the opportunities outside the EU are huge – the EU only accounts for about 15 per cent of the global economy and we have a proud history of trading much further afield.
“A measured approach, focusing on just one market at a time, makes it easier to research new markets. For instance, in addition to the obvious giants like the US, India and China, other less obvious countries provide significant opportunities for certain sectors. For example, Ukraine has a population of over 45m and is in need of agri tech, infrastructure and other commodities.
“Use the internet for your initial research, then choose an advisor who can support you fully with any transactions across boundaries, who understands the risks you face and can help reduce them.”
M: +44 (0)7816 592 934
Question 2 | Where are the potential markets for your business?
“Almost 60 per cent of respondents felt that the US was a potential market for their product or service – not surprising because it is the largest economy in the world and has (broadly) the same language.
“In order to stand out and raise your profile, it is appropriate to refer to your heritage in your marketing – products and services focused on ‘Britishness’ do particularly well in the US. But US consumers and firms can be litigious – make sure your contracts and T&Cs are drafted by a lawyer who has experience of working with US companies and defending actions In your chosen jurisdiction.
“To counteract Trump’s promise to bring back jobs to the US, which could hit imports, consider setting up a US sales office or agency to employ local people, thus making your business more American. You could also consider a joint venture.”
M: +44 (0)7772 481 550
Question 3 | Are your employees from the EU?
“25 per cent of companies in the South West who employ a significant number of workers from the EU are worried about the impact of Brexit on their business. EU nationals need to understand the impact of Brexit on their immigration status and business owners want to protect their business continuity.
“Support and encourage early applications for permanent residence for those who qualify, either using the current application process or the ‘settled status’ process expected to be available shortly. If EU migrants continue to opt out of working in the UK, employers will need to find creative ways to attract and retain UK workers, for example by offering training, career progression or re-skilling existing staff. In sectors already struggling with cuts and tight margins, this is challenging.”