It’s been debated for years, but finally it’s here, a referendum on whether we remain with the EU or go it alone.
And the decision is only next month. We’re sure there are plenty of you out there who maybe haven’t made your minds up on which way you are going to vote, but as a business owner, have you thought about what a possible Brexit could mean for you, your company and your employees?
The fact is, that this could be a real possibility, and although it can be somewhat impossible to predict just what could happen as a result of exiting, we can’t ignore the debate.
So what are the experts saying?
The overall opinion is that there will inevitably be an effect on small businesses as a result of Brexit, although what that looks like remains unknown.
Legal and business experts are mainly agreed that if a Brexit goes ahead, it will be a rocky time, certainly in the short to medium term, and whether that paves the way for a stable outcome in the long term is uncertain.
And it seems that small businesses agree. A recent poll* of 500 small businesses in Britain revealed that just 17 percent backed a Brexit, with the reasons given that they’re worried about not being able to play on a level playing field with the rest of the EU, and some stating that the political uncertainty is already having a knock-on effect to their business.
It’s a case that business owners don’t want to rock the boat and ruin possible chances of long-term growth, and for that reason, six in ten are planning to vote to remain in the EU.
So what should businesses do?
Well, it will certainly do no harm for you to look at what a possible Brexit could mean for you personally.
Thinking about customers, suppliers and employees is a good place to start.
Would your customers still want to buy from you if you are no longer part of the EU? You may have to face additional taxes, have to raise your prices, not be able to establish good relationships with suppliers any longer and be forced to look elsewhere. This could have a huge knock-on effect on your bottom line, so it’s definitely one to think about.
Likewise, if you employ staff who aren’t British nationals, then it may mean them needing a work permit or visa just to remain working with you. What would that mean for your recruitment, will they leave to look for work elsewhere? Will that mean the pool of talent significantly reduced? What effect could that have on the service you provide?
The upshot is that no-one really knows what’s going to happen, but taking the time to think about possible outcomes and exploring alternatives will ensure that you aren’t operating out of panic if Brexit does happen. You will most likely be in an advantageous position over your competitors with potential scenarios already mapped out.
So even if you think it’s unlikely to happen, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
*Poll undertaken by Moore Stephens in February 2016