Brexit has created an understandable level of uncertainty in the business world and it’s not just big banks and international corporations that are being affected. Britain’s SMEs are also feeling the fear.
According to PwC research, 66 per cent of Britain’s small businesses want the government to focus on agreeing continued access to the European Union’s single market, while 62 per cent say they want trade deals that provide access to non-EU markets.
The same survey found that 38 per cent of small businesses had a clear post-Brexit growth plan, while 21 per cent claim to have put recruitment plans on hold. This starkly illustrates the climate of uncertainty surrounding the drawn-out Brexit process.
However, one thing that is certain, with SMEs accounting for 99.9 per cent of the UK’s business population, is that small businesses will have an enormous role to play in the UK’s post-Brexit economy.
So, if you’re thinking of launching your business, is now the right time? Here are some things you should be taking into consideration.
Deal or no deal?
Even after years of negotiations, the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal in place remains a very real possibility. And, even if a deal were to be struck, there’s no guarantee it will offer the same level of single market access that UK firms currently enjoy, nor is there a timescale on the negotiations of non-EU trade deals.
Whatever the outcome of negotiations between the UK government and the EU, it is clear that any business owner should be prepared for a vastly different trading environment post-Brexit. Import and export with EU countries is likely to never be the same, but it is possible that potential deals with non-EU countries will create new trading avenues.
Finding your team
Brexit has had a huge effect on both recruitment plans and the UK workforce. According to research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), there was a 95 per cent decline in EU nationals joining the UK workforce between the first quarter of 2016 and the first quarter of 2018.
This drop-off has combined with low unemployment levels and an increased appetite for recruitment to create widespread recruitment difficulties across all industries and business sizes. The CIPD says that 67 per cent of businesses are reporting difficulties in filling vacancies as of summer 2019.
Even if the rights of EU nationals in the UK are secured post-Brexit, the recruitment market will still be very different and those looking to hire should prepare to draw from a more limited, more domestic talent pool.
Domestic enterprise and investment
A potential upside of the uncertainty over Brexit is that the weaker pound sterling could encourage other investment trends geared more towards the domestic market, something that would certainly be of benefit to the UK’s small businesses.
With a weaker pound, equity firms will find it easier to invest in UK industries and could be encouraged to explore domestic avenues of growth.
The key takeaway
One thing that uncertainty rewards is agility and preparedness in business owners, something that Britain’s small business owners have proven they have in abundance. Small firms that show these qualities are the ones that will thrive in a post-Brexit world. So, if that sounds like you, now could be the perfect time to launch your enterprise.