What Are You Waiting For In Brexit Uncertainty?

Brexit uncertainty then plan to act now

Most businesses seem to be waiting for something concrete to happen with Brexit before acting. The stance seems to be once we know what’s decided we can act.

This is wrong. Good business planners look at any situation and attempt to work out the absolute worst scenario, the best scenario and the others in between. This does take more time, but this is recouped by effective action and flexibility to respond as the Brexit uncertainty continues to evolve.

Brexit timetable

For the last two years the only thing that most people have been certain on with Brexit is that the day of departure is 29th March 2018. That date still seems to be the case unless the EU unanimously agrees an extension. But as the EU doesn’t want to re-open negotiations on the 585 page withdrawal treaty, this seems even less likely than we have an agreed arrangement.

Most people are of course wrong. 29th March is exit day from the EU and the start of the 21 months of trade negotiations so that the UK leaves on December 31st 2020. Failing agreement in this time then the negotiations could be extended to December 31st 2022.

This extension is when Brexit uncertainty becomes even messier. This is a new EU budget period and after this date the backstop kicks in that binds the UK to customs union until the trade deals are done. Ironically a peace process agreement by 2 sovereign nations is derailing part of a departure agreement from a group of 27. Its threat continues in the protracted trade negotiations, which would need to break records to be ready in time.

3 Brexit Business Options

There is little time left to deploy the first option of stockpiling essential raw materials to keep the business working. Not least because after working out how much a business needs and having found where to store it, the supplier needs to be able to deliver it.

For some suppliers there is a current boom which may translate to a post-March bust. There may be still time to discuss with your supply chain where key parts are made so the absence of some small widget does not take out the whole business for days. Learn from Brexit, be open and supportive in your discussions to arrive at a mutually best solution.

If the dislocation of 29th March is seen to be so great, perhaps the best action is temporary closure for a month to return with greater certainty and the resources to respond. This would be a good opportunity to catch up on all those things that get put off or are just about to start like digital VAT and tax. But for most businesses this is not a sensible option.

The only realistic option is to plan for increased uncertainty. This means:

  • Greater flexibility in approach combined with the shepherding of resources.
  • More stress as some of the established business norms will no longer apply.
  • Revisiting your business strategies to identify opportunities, calculate risks and buffers and set clear key performance indicators that enable day-to-day management.

Getting Prepared in the Forest of Dean?

For businesses in the Forest of Dean, there are opportunities to learn more and act by attending a discussion event on 27th February led by a panel of businesses and experts. Click find out more and about its follow-up event on 13th March to help focus your own pragmatic response to continued Brexit uncertainty.