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6 min read

Should I still start a business in light of Brexit?

The only thing that has seemed certain in the years since Brexit (the referendum in June 2016), has been uncertainty for people and for businesses. That uncertainty alone has caused a rollercoaster ride for the British economy in recent years and erosion of business confidence. 

So where does this leave you if you’re one of Britain’s budding entrepreneurs considering starting a business soon? Should it be all systems go or should you hold fire for the time being?

Brexit: the facts

On 31 January 2020, the UK left the EU and entered a transition period during which it will remain in the single market and abide by the EU’s regulations but without being a part of its political institutions or having any British MEPs sitting in the European Parliament.

From 1 January 2021, the transition period will be over and there will be new rules for doing business, living, working and travelling in the EU. What those rules are will depend on how the negotiations progress. 

“We left the EU on 31 January in line with the referendum result. We regain full independence for the people of the UK at the end of this year: the negotiation is about defining the terms on which we do that.”

A Downing Street source in The Guardian

Brexit: what dates do I need to know?

  • All Eu Flags Eurozone waving against European parliament building
    February 2020

    The UK government and the EU will unveil their negotiation plans. Boris will also release details of our trade agreement with the US.

  • Unrecognizable businessman walking in an office.
    March 2020

    Talks begin to negotiate a UK trade deal with the EU. These talks will revolve around how many EU rules Britain will still have to stick to as part of a deal.

  • Big Ben and the houses of parliament in London
    30 June 2020

    The deadline for extending the transition period.

  • Handshake
    31 December 2020

    The deadline for the agreement of a trade deal (if the deadline hasn’t been extended by 30th June). 

  • Flags of the world
    January 2021

    A new relationship begins with the EU or we have exited without a deal.

Should I be starting a business anytime soon?

The short answer is, yes, why not? 

The reality is that despite Boris’ promises to ‘get Brexit done’, we really don’t know how much longer the negotiations will go on for or what a deal might look like or not look like at the end of it. At the moment we’re still stuck in the ‘yelling at each other’ phase (not official political terminology).

If you’re in the throes of just starting a business, or in the research phase, then everything will be new to you anyway. As with setting up a business at any time, you should be aware of the risks and changes that might occur and how these could potentially affect you.

One of the key things you’ll need to do is put together a business plan. This is arguably more important than ever as your business plan should take into account different Brexit scenarios and how this could affect your business operations. 

How might my new business be affected by Brexit?

There is a transition questionnaire that you can fill in online to check how to get ready for the new rules in 2021. Pay particular attention from a business perspective if you intend to:

Opportunities for starting a business around Brexit

Of course, there are many unknowns when it comes to Brexit. However, businesses and startups should be mindful of the potential benefits of Brexit – and how they could take advantage.

New and smaller businesses could benefit by being agile

Adaptability will be key in post-Brexit Britain and will be more difficult for the larger corporations and those with complex supply chains.

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Could you take advantage of gaps that could be left or supply to companies who are currently relying on trading within EU countries and are now looking for other options?

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You could be at the forefront of the re-emergence of old industries

It’s possible that we could see the re-growth of industries like steel and fishing who suffered when we were part of the EU.

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This would also bring huge benefits to the surrounding communities. Equally, this could help businesses that are part of the industry eco-system. 

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There will be support for British innovation and entrepreneurialism

The government is throwing its weight behind helping smaller companies to start up and grow in niche markets to prove that Brexit will be beneficial for British business.

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99.9% of all UK businesses are classed as SMEs so it’s clear that in order for Brexit to work, and the economy not to suffer, support needs to be available.

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The strength of the pound

A stronger pound means that imports are cheaper and you’ll get more bang for your buck on holiday but a weaker pound makes UK exports more attractive to foreign buyers.

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If the pound is weaker consider starting a business where you sell your products or services outside the UK to countries in the EU or others. Starting an organisation where you have the flexibility to sell domestically or abroad would be the best bet.

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We can return to buying from world markets

In particular, buying cheaper foods globally outside the Common Agricultural Policy.  

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This should leave people better off to spend their money on other things.

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2022 will be a big year for Britain

It will be the Queen’s platinum (70th) jubilee, the 75th anniversary of the Edinburgh Festival, the BBC’s centenary, the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, and (not to forget) the ‘Festival of Brexit’.

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Plenty of reasons to celebrate for the nation, particularly if your new business is in tourism or supplies any sort of event-related services.

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Help others prepare for Brexit

In all the uncertainty and with the change that will need to happen in the transition period and when it is over, could you offer services to help people or businesses to get ready?

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There will be a huge demand for expertise when it comes to adjusting to new rules and regulations.

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6 opportunities for British business post-Brexit

Brexit has the potential to radically transform the UK economy and, in turn, its businesses. Whilst much of the talk over the last few years has centred on ways to prepare for disruption and uncertainty, what are the opportunities that may lie ahead?

Read more
British flag on paper ship

Regardless of Brexit, always remember the fundamentals of business

Being competitive as a business comes from supplying good quality things that people want at fair prices, regardless of whether we are in the EU or not. 

Conduct a SWOT analysis and write a business plan detailing your operational, sales and marketing strategies and your financial projections and work out best and worst-case scenarios considering how different Brexit trade deals (or no deals) could change things for you.

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