Everything you need to know about a small Business Brexit

Great panel session “Everything you need to know about a small Business Brexit’ was hosted by Small Business Charter on 5 November at the QEII Conference Centre in Westminster, London. Welcome by Lord Young and expert panel moderated by Michelle Ovens MBE.

Lord Young started with an anecdote of how the salient interview job was about service pensions, at the start of his career in 1948. He then gave the antecedents of how he came into Commercial and Government service and his role as Secretary of State for Trade and Industry.

Lord Young made mention of his agreement with Jeremy Corbyn on the future need of a four day working week, with the Leisure & Entertainment industry to grow employment. He remarked on the changed business landscape and set the tone of the panel discussion by explaining that business would always face challenges which could be turned into opportunities.

Lord Young, Chairman, Young Associates and Patron, Small Business Charter

Panel Discussion (L-R)

Neil Warwick OBE, Partner, Square One Law and National Portfolio Chair for Brexit  Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)
Richard Davies, SME Banking Director, TSB
Michelle Ovens MBE,Director, peak b Ltd and Chair, Small Business Charter
Emma Jones MBE, Founder, Enterprise Nation
Professor Mark Hart, Professor of Small Business and Entrepreneurship,  Aston Business School and Deputy Director, Enterprise Research Centre

small Business Brexit Panel

The panel moderation by Michelle Ovens MBE then drew out the salient points.

1. Present level of uncertainity was compounded by the issue of qualified staff and good practice, this mainly affects the Tourism and Hospitality sector. The UK Government has confirmed there will be no immediate changes to UK Employment and workplace rights post-Brexit.
2. Multinationals (each) have several contingency plans to manage Brexit but small Business should focus on just the two preferred options;
[1] No deal (Hard) Brexit and [2] Brexit with Backstops (kicked down the road!)
Since the ‘No deal’ option was more stringent this would also cover Option 2!!
3. The size of business and sector also matters and it’s the supply side chain which will be adversely effected. An example was given of manufacturing companies in the North East and Midlands who had taken action since the referendum results were anounced, by setting up subsidiaries in West & Eastern Euroope.
4. Small Business were also moving from Direct sales to Marketplaces on the major eCommerce portals, e.g Amazon and eBay to manage their fulfillment for UK & Overseas orders.
5. SMEs have the tendency to wait till the last minute to take the plunge and Enterprise Nation had been advocating for a government funded Brexit advisory service.
6. 20% of FSB members are Exporting using outsourcing , e.g freight forwarders while FSB helping lead private sector since mindset of business owners need to change.
7. Businesses that trade with the EU should take steps to understand the potential impact of Brexit on their export and import activities.
8. Unintended consequences of Brexit seems to be the stockpiling leads to poor cashflow which can negatively impact business performance.

Highlights from Audience Q & A: Tips given
1. Joint venture with EU partners
2. Focus on staff training and updating digital business skills
3. Good strategy would be to GoGlobal and explore non-EU markets.
4. Carry out supply chain mapping exercise and manage supplier contracts.
5. Understand impact of regulations and and develop strategy to mitigate risk.
6. Take practical short term steps to plan for contingencies & projections; consult your Bank early.
7. Look at ways if minimising disruption would be to sign up new contracts and widen scope of suppliers.

Available Resources:
Help and Training from Small Business Charter 
Enterprise Nation Brexit advisory service.
FSB Small Business Brexit Pack: Introduction
London Growth Hub Brexit Business Resource Hub
Brexit Toolkit