19 October 2018

Your business and Brexit: 6 questions to ask now

As negotiations continue, clarity on Brexit might still seem a long way off. It's important, though, to be proactive and not simply take a wait-and-see approach.

Use our checklist to help you determine whether your business is Brexit-ready and find some practical steps you could take now.

  1. Does your business plan stand up to Brexit?
  2. Look at your plans in the light of the predicted slowdown in UK economy growth.

    Cancelling your growth plans in the face of uncertainty would risk giving your competitors an edge – but some refocusing might be useful. You can find some valuable insight into driving your growth plans here.

    If you're selling direct to consumers, which sectors and markets will offer the best opportunities? If your customer base is fellow businesses, could you gain by targeting a new sector that's more likely to be resilient post-Brexit? It might be that international markets offer new opportunities. Our International Business Guides provide in-depth information to help you as you consider new markets.

  3. How might currency volatility effect your business?
  4. Sterling hit its lowest level in three decades after the referendum result, and fluctuation has become the norm. While exporters have benefited, importers feel the pressure of rising costs. Which camp do you sit in?

    If you're already exporting, you might want to try to increase your sales overseas to make the most of this advantage.

    As an importer, you could speak to your suppliers to see if you can negotiate a deal that would lock prices for the medium term, if you haven't already done so.

    Another option is to take a fresh look at suppliers in the UK – their offering might be more attractive in the light of recent developments.

    For more information around trading internationally, explore our Export Resource Centre.

  5. Will tariffs have an impact?
  6. It’s likely that we'll see a hike in costs of compliance and customs for businesses trading with the EU. Some basic scenario planning can help you map the potential impact on your business.

    It might be that you're directly affected or you find that suppliers based in the UK, but sourcing raw materials from Europe, have to pass their costs onto you.

    Think about the impact of non-tariff barriers too. Bigger administrative burdens could put extra pressure on your resources.

    Again, you might want to seek alternative suppliers within the UK or beyond the EU. Bear in mind that there's an opportunity for growth if potential customers in your sector are seeking to bring production back to the UK.

  7. How strong is your supply chain?
  8. Talk to major buyers about their plans. If they decided to move out of the UK as a result of Brexit, what would that mean for you?

    If you foresee cashflow challenges, explore the possibility of a supply chain finance programme with your biggest customers. You could also talk to your bank about invoice finance, allowing you to release the working capital tied up in unpaid invoices.

  9. What does Brexit mean for your employees?
  10. Consider what support and reassurance any staff you employ from EU countries might need.

    Think about reviewing which protections and benefits are critical to you and your staff. Committing to keep these benefits, even if they are no longer statutory after Brexit, could boost employee loyalty and retention – and make you more competitive in future recruitment. We consider the talent challenge facing many UK businesses here.

  11. Is there value in looking to markets beyond Europe?
  12. Easy access has made EU countries an obvious choice for exporters, but there are markets further afield that are easy to do business with, rich in opportunity and very open to British goods and services.

    Australia, for instance, is among the world's wealthiest markets. Singapore, one of the UK's largest trading partners, is ranked as the world's easiest place to do business, and India has been steadily removing trade barriers, while its economy is predicted to soar.

Cancelling your growth plans in the face of uncertainty would risk giving your competitors an edge – but some refocusing might be useful.

You are leaving the HSBC Commercial Banking website.

Please be aware that the external site policies will differ from our website terms and conditions and privacy policy. The next site will open in a new browser window or tab.

You are leaving the HSBC Commercial Banking website.

Please be aware that the external site policies will differ from our website terms and conditions and privacy policy. The next site will open in a new browser window or tab.