SMEs need to do a “Brexit MOT” to work out what will happen in January

Toby Harper – Time for a Brexit MOT

A new white paper from Harper James Solicitors advises start-ups and SMEs to perform a “Brexit MOT”. It suggests they “need to get under the bonnet of their businesses to pinpoint areas where they may need support from January”.

This article is the view of the author and not necessarily of Ready for Brexit

CEO Toby Harper says, “It was fascinating to read the different views of those who contributed to our report”.

Elle McIntosh, the co-founder of Twipes, one of the 1,000 clients we work with, told us of her concerns about how Brexit would impact her business.  For Twipes, who produce flushable wet-wipes, their supply chains are vital. They are urging Ministers to ‘be transparent’ about how this vital area may be impacted.

“By having European suppliers, there’s potential to incur high import tax and charges that as a SME, we will have trouble keeping up with,” she writes in our report.  “We have taken steps to tighten our supply chain and bring it closer to the UK. By closing our supply chain and sticking with as many UK suppliers as possible, we believe that we can protect ourselves from any severe changes that may come with us leaving the European Union.”

So far so good. But then she warns: “I think for SMEs, there is still a huge amount of information missing in terms of what it means for them. A lot of start-ups either rely on European trade or manufacturing. Many of us are still heavily kept in the dark when it comes to knowing what is to come. It’s the responsibility of the government to provide clear instructions on what it means for us.”

Those views are echoed by Enterprise Nation, which is now celebrating its 15th year supporting UK start-ups. ‘Small firms will need a lot of support, particularly financial, to get them up to speed and allow for continuity,” their founder Emma Jones writes in our report. “We are ever optimistic about the opportunities Brexit might bring, whilst trying to strike a balance between providing useful advice and clarity in response to announcements and challenging – where we feel small firms might be marginalised.

We think it’s too early to tell what the impact will be. One thing we know already is that small firms will adapt when the time comes. In terms of start-ups there are many reasons to see a decoupling from the EU as a boost, certainly financially we might be able to see the opening up of investment routes into tech firms, for instance. We do however think small firms will need a lot of support, potentially financial, to get them up to speed and allow for continuity.”

Another of our clients, Zoom Abroad, which helps place foreign students in UK universities, will be among those asking for help. Their founder Abhishek Nakhate says: ‘We are planning to get legal advice on EU regulations and GDPR-related adaptability. We are keen to know if there will be any changes after Brexit. We believe Brexit will positively impact our business, although my personal views are different. Since we cater to international students, who are motivated by job opportunities and work permits, the expectation is that post-Brexit, non-EU students will enjoy the same treatment and opportunity as EU students.”

This positive outlook is mirrored by Peter Wilkinson a strategic marketing consultant and founding member of the LinkedIn group, Better Business After Brexit. Writing in our report he says: “Brexit will offer many opportunities. For me, the focus will be on managing the increased workload created by the business opportunities.  Mid-term, the changes that will happen when some of the EU law is redefined in British law will need watching. Strategic opportunities may present themselves, but also risks. The key message to my fellow SMEs is to find and see the opportunities. Strategically plan and put in place robust SWOTS. Rise to the challenge and reap the rewards that will be there for those that wish to find them.”


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