New year outlook for UK’s SMEs

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For many small to medium-sized businesses Christmas is the busiest time of year, with business owners and their staff working throughout the festive season.

From restaurants and shops to newsagents, and even larger online companies like web hosting providers 1&1 IONOS, there’s no time to rest. But now that the rush is over, it’s time to buckle up for 2019.

Each new year brings a different set of challenges with it, but 2019 has Brexit written all over it – a challenge that no SME quite yet knows how to handle. Mike Cherry, chairman of the Federation for Small Businesses (FSB), ended 2018 with a plea to the UK government:

“As Brexit approaches on the 29th March, the Government must give proper help and support on how to comply with whatever will be required. Adapting to whatever the new trading circumstances with the EU are will mean changing business procedures, taking valuable time out from running a business, and for many it will involve paying for external expertise.”

According to FSB statistics, in 2018, small businesses accounted for 99.3% of all private sector business and 60% of all private sector employment. With such a strong hold on the UK economy, small and medium-sized businesses will require more attention in 2019.

The predicted economic downturn that will accompany Brexit will call for a certain amount of preparation for all SMEs. Although we wait in limbo until March 2019, there are of course certain measures small businesses can take in the meantime:

    • Retaining talent: In such uncertain times, you may find that some employees are leaving the UK. Do everything you can to retain your talented staff – even if it means establishing remote work opportunities internally.
    • Assess current contracts: Take a look at all your current contracts with clients and business partners and try to predict how exactly they will unfold post-Brexit. Adapt internal processes accordingly.
    • Review your suppliers: Supply chains will probably be the element of day-to-day business that will be impacted the most during Brexit. Exporters and importers to and from the UK market are likely to be effected. SMEs should prepare for this by reviewing contracts, certifications, transport documents, contracts and any other regulations.
    • Seek support: There are plenty of organisations designed to help small businesses in uncertain times such as the Small Business Charter schools, the FSB and Enterprise Nation. The most important thing is to stay informed on all Brexit-related issues, and the above organisations will help you do exactly that.