You might have thought you had avoided the topic with us – but with a new Prime Minister making a lot of new promises, it would be impossible for us not to talk about the B-word. Brexit. At this stage, there is still a lot of uncertainty around the whole issue, and it doesn’t seem as though anyone is sure of what will happen in 99 days, when the deadline hits. As a result, businesses are understandably concerned about the future, and many business advice columns are advising small business owners to start preparing themselves for a no-deal Brexit. Since Verbatim work with a wide range of clients who are based in or trade with Europe, we’ve been picking up some useful information on how small businesses can prepare right now.
Movement Of Goods
At current estimates, around 240,000 UK businesses trade with the EU in some way or another – and yours might well be one of them. If this is the case, then you need to get ready to comply with all customs formalities in the event of a no-deal Brexit. At the moment, as a member of the EU, there are a lot of things we can bypass, but if we leave without a trade deal in place, there will be a lot more hoops for you to jump through. HMRC has published a series of guides for businesses, one specifically for businesses trading only with the EU, and one for those trading with the EU and other countries. On top of that, there are grants in place that can help cover the cost of customs training, if it’s needed. In the meantime, the ICAWE advises that any importing/exporting businesses do the following:
- Register for a UK Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number. Businesses that already have an EORI number from another member state (one that does not start GB) can continue using it for now.
- Decide if you want to hire an agent to make import and/or export declarations, or make them yourself by, for example, buying software that interacts with HMRC’s systems;
- Contact the organisation that moves your goods to see if you will need to provide any additional information to them.
- Get ready to comply with any instructions that may be issued by EU-member states that you export into.
Review Your Workforce Requirements
If you employ a high number of EU workers, now is the time to prepare for their numbers to drop. With the risk of a no-deal Brexit, many EU workers may not be able to continue working in the UK, or else will have to go through some complicated and drawn out legal processes to obtain the right work permit. During that time, they won’t be working for you, so you need to plan out how you’re going to cover that deficit. A few ways you could do this include looking into apprenticeships or new hires. If your business plan involved new overseas locations in the future, where will you find employees, how will you pay them and what skills will they need?
If you’re importing from the EU, then you will likely find yourself going through more complicated practices to get goods there. This may mean you need to carry more inventory, which for many businesses will tie up valuable working capital and impact cash flow. To try and combat this, HMRC have pledged to reintroduce postponed accounting for duty and VAT – which means that VAT and duties due on imports from ‘third countries’ (including the EU in a no-deal scenario), can be settled on your standard VAT return, instead of up front at port. This is just one of the ways a no-deal Brexit can impact your business finances, so it might be worth investing in some financial planning.
How A Call Answering Service Could Help
When the Brexit deadline passes, there is likely to be a lot of activity, one way or another. Your suppliers and clients may want to discuss their packages, you might experience customer issues (especially if you’re in an area like law or finance), or you might see a sudden dip in activity as your customers work out their own plans for a no-deal Brexit. By choosing a flexible call answering service you can scale up your service when you need it, and scale it down when you don’t. If your staff are showing signs of struggling with Brexit related issues, or they want to be able to focus on their work instead of answering the same questions over and over again. Verbatim’s services can handle all of those FAQ’s around Brexit for you, leaving you free to work uninterrupted.
If you would like to find out more, just get in touch with us today.