The topic of the UK’s exit from the European Union is one which has dominated the political as well as the commercial world for more than three years. But what should small businesses be doing? The Gattinetts Business Centre is home to a range of industrial office units on the Suffolk/Essex border, so we work closely with SMEs who are based in both counties. Here are some key pieces of advice for small businesses who may be concerned about Brexit.

Be Prepared

Boris Johnson’s election as Prime Minister last year, coupled with the Conservative Party’s victory in the General Election, has now made our departure more certain, and a so-called ‘no-deal Brexit’ less likely. However, the exact nature of our exit from the EU has still not yet been finalised.

The Government’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill was passed by the House of Commons this month and the UK is due to leave the EU on January 31, although there will be a so-called ‘transition period’ until the end of this year.

This is intended to give both parties time to finalise the nature of their relationship, including the exact shape of any future trade deal, which will obviously affect SMEs across the country.  So it makes sense to continue for small businesses to prepare for as many different outcomes as possible.

Check Out the Official Websites

The Government’s official website, gov.uk. has come up with advice tailored for all sections of the business community. This includes guidance for specific types of companies, as well as more general sections on ‘how to do business’ with other countries.

If you belong to an official trade association, it’s also helpful to look at what their advice is. The Federation of Small Businesses also has an online Brexit hub, which outlines the various possibilities going forward.

Remember Your Suppliers

Even if all your trade is carried out within the UK, then you could still be affected by Brexit. It’s not just about people you sell directly to, as your products may contain individual elements or components which come from the EU.

In future, Europe and the UK will be treated as separate entities, which is likely to affect the price of all goods and services. All UK businesses importing from, or exporting to, the EU should register for a UK Economic Operator and Registration Document in order to continue to trade. It is also worth noting that you won’t be allowed to say that your product is ‘manufactured in the EU’ and will have to carry a UK address on the label or packaging.

What About Your Staff?

You should also be checking out the repercussions of any deal or no-deal scenarios on any EU nationals you employ. While the current ‘settled status’ proposals mean that they will be allowed to stay in the UK, Brexit could also spell an end to the free movement of labour between Europe and this country.

So, if you want to expand your business, or you need to replace an existing member of staff, you may have a smaller pool of talent to draw upon. This could mean developing a new recruitment strategy where your staff are all from within the UK.

Brexit-Proof Your Contracts

Some larger companies are already doing what is being called ‘Brexit-proofing’ their contracts. These include references to ‘material adverse change’ and stating that pricing terms may need to be revisited or renegotiated, depending on the nature of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

This is something that small companies could be doing as well to safeguard their long-term futures, and it will be particularly useful if Brexit results in changes in the levels of VAT and duty which are imposed.

Industrial Office Units at The Gattinetts Business Centre

The Gattinetts Business Centre lies within easy reach of both Ipswich and Colchester, making it ideal for those looking for industrial office units, workshops and storage space in Suffolk and Essex. We provide free on-site parking for customers and staff and we also have secure on-site storage facilities. Follow the link above to learn more.