Since the EU referendum last June, the only certainty has been uncertainty. Immense uncertainty. In an effort to find some insight into the impact of the vote on the photographic industry, and the small business environment as a whole, we’ve been trawling some articles and reports from the last year. Here are a few of the most important points to consider.
The latest estimate from the UK’s Department for Business Innovation and Skills claims that Brexit will directly affect surprisingly few small to medium sized businesses (SMEs) over the next few years, a conclusion based on the fact that fewer than ten per cent of SMEs export to the EU, and only fifteen per cent more are involved in EU-based supply chains. The most significant impact on SMEs is expected to come indirectly, from their clients, as SMEs supplying larger businesses may experience a drop in demand due to companies scaling back their production.
Challenging times are ahead. The nature of any industry is to experience cycles of profitability and hardship, but the immediate impact of Brexit has tightened purse strings across the board in the UK – at least for the short-term – and it may be many months or even years before benefits are truly felt. A Bizdaq report from 2016 found that only one in five SMEs have reported being optimistic about our post-EU future. Looking at the creative industries, meanwhile, it seems a universal trope within politics to take the broadest possible view, looking at the success of a minority of productions – particularly films – while failing to mention the details, the smaller businesses which come under the umbrella and which experience greater hardship with less of a safety net.
UK-based photographers can expect the cost of their equipment to rise, as international companies from Hasselblad to Canon voiced their disappointment within days of the referendum result. Indeed, Canon even expressed fears that Brexit might have a long-term indirect impact on the Japanese economy.
In conclusion, businesses within most industries are having to take greater care with their planning and finances as we proceed towards our EU exit, and the photographic industry is no different. Careful planning and decision-making will be required – but a little shrewdness is no bad thing in business.