Brexit and small businesses: Five steps to Brexit readiness

Mike Harrington on 08/04/2019

Brexit. The word on everyone’s lips for nearly three years, and one which we are all perhaps getting more than slightly fed up of. But whilst we look on and await the outcomes and timeframes, businesses large and small have been beavering away on strategies to best help them ride the wave of uncertainty.

It could be argued that in comparison to larger businesses, small businesses can deal with Brexit upheaval more efficiently – at least in theory – as they are more responsive and adaptable. A retailer can swiftly change to different types of stock for instance, whilst service-based businesses may have close relationships with its customers, so can quickly cater for their changing requirements. Usually there is a much smaller number of staff to support and fewer overheads which can work to a smaller business’s advantage.

The downside is however that smaller businesses may have less ready cash available in an emergency and are much more likely to struggle with cash flow issues than their larger cousins. Whilst managing cash flow is always vital for any small business, ensuring the tide of cash remains high throughout 2019 and beyond could require even more foresight, creativity and attention to detail than usual. If a no-deal Brexit becomes a reality, then additional red tape and customs requirements might push cash flow beyond its limits.

As a small business ourselves with over 23 years’ experience, Packshot People has also been working to mitigate the effects of Brexit. Having weathered our share of recessions and economic draughts, we’ve put together these five Brexit survival tips we wanted to share.


Be proactive

As long as you don’t just sit back and go with the flow, you’re already on the right track. Tackling the challenges of Brexit with a positive, proactive mind set is the best way to prepare. Monitor the news and keep updated with what’s happening throughout your industry. Factor any new developments into your plans to help you stay ahead.


Get talking

Keep the lines of communication open between yourself, your staff and your suppliers. Ask your staff what ideas they may have to prepare the business for Brexit and listen to any practical ideas they come up with. See what steps your suppliers are taking to prepare for Brexit, and if they envisage any issues that might affect your small business directly.

You may even decide to discuss Brexit with your competitors, or trade organisations, to see if they can offer any insights or advice. Essentially, it’s never too early to ask questions or to start negotiating if necessary before Brexit day happens.


Begin a reviewing process

Whilst speaking to your staff it might be a good idea to get them to document their everyday business procedures if it’s not something you do already. Step-by-step lists or flow charts are a great way to do this, and will show up any areas that you may need to review or change in order to adhere to the new Brexit compliance requirements. This would be things like data collection practices, for example.


Protect your supply chain

The UK’s departure from the EU will affect a vast number of businesses across pretty much all sectors so make your supply chain a top priority.

Get a dialogue going with your suppliers to discuss their plans for continuity of service. For a small business, any supply chain failure can have devastating consequences, as just one late delivery can have very negative implications. If your customers aren’t receiving their services or products on time, it will be your small business that faces the backlash, not your suppliers.

Everyone in your supply chain will be aware of Brexit and should have started to make their own plans for it. As a small business owner, discussions should start now, rather than waiting until Brexit has happened. A proactive rather than reactive stance will help you foresee any problems before they arise and will give you more time to deal with them. If serious problems with suppliers are on the horizon, it also gives you an opportunity to switch if necessary.


Marketing, marketing, marketing

When times get hard, businesses naturally look to conserve cash in any way possible. This often leads towards a temptation to cut down on promotional activities or even abandon them altogether. However, this is actually likely to do more harm than good, as small businesses need to be pushing their messages out there to generate work – not staying quiet.

Promotional spend acts as an investment and is vital in attracting new customers, as well as maintaining the customer base you already have. Customers are at the heart of any business, so it’s essential to avoid thinking of your marketing as a non-essential overhead as this is likely to be a costly mistake.

Marketing and promotional activities can take many forms, from enhancing your website to creating new brochures containing expert photos that really sell your products. But whatever you do, don’t skimp on it when money is tight.


How Packshot People can help

If you’re interested in finding out more about how Packshot People can help you market your small business, get in touch today for a chat. Call the team on 01603 628050 or email

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