Ready For Brexit? This Is How Your Competitors Are Preparing For It

October 15

It feels like every day now, the impending storm of Brexit gathers force and looks more and more menacing for SMEs.

Ready For Brexit? This Is How Your Competitors Are Preparing For It


Few business experts and economists expect the separation of the UK from the European Union to bring immediate financial benefits to either party. And here, on the island of Ireland, the only country with a land border to the UK, when B-day hits on the 29th of March 2019 we are likely to feel the full impact.

As SME owners look to navigate these uncertain times, they're asking similar questions: Will there be new regulations, tariffs or a possible hard border? How will these factors impact on the operating costs of companies? And how much will these changes cost?

With this in mind, let's explore some key ways that SMEs in Ireland – north and south - can best prepare for Brexit.

Partnership Creation

Based in the north, Tyrone business, Community Directories Northern Ireland, is a trusted publisher of local telephone directories. They are attempting to seek out the best and most informed way to navigate these uncertain Brexit waters.

The reason being, for more than 10 years, Community Directories has worked closely with a printing business in Lithuania. Company director Peter O'Brien explains: "We have a sales team that sells advertisement space all around Ulster. Designers then create unique and innovative advertisements in Tyrone and, finally, proofs are sent electronically to Lithuania, to be printed and delivered to Northern Ireland within a month."

It's a partnership that has proved hugely positive for the Community Directories, but Peter is wary about what the future holds for this inter-European alliance. High among his concerns are the extra tariffs and taxes that may be levied on imports.

"A business must try and look forward," says Peter. "But because of Brexit, we are unable to plan. We make our decisions based on knowledge. If you don’t have knowledge, you can't plan and if you can’t plan, your company will suffer."

Despite being extremely happy with the service provided by the team in Lithuania, the prospect of greater costs has prompted Peter to evaluate other printers in the UK.

"Over years of doing business in Lithuania, we have built up a strong professional and personal relationship. It would be a regret to have to sever this connection."

Being a member of the EU meant that UK businesses could look further afield and foster relationships with businesses across the continent. But now, that is up in the air.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that companies in the UK may have to start looking closer to home and within the north of Ireland or Great Britain. Creating new partnerships with companies that are going through similar challenges to your own business is a smart way to grapple with the new legislation and financial terms that will soon be upon SMEs in the UK and Republic of Ireland.

In order to do this, SMEs should avail of networking opportunities more locally, meeting other businesses in the same situation as themselves for advice or; more importantly, reaching out to designated organisations who can provide the services needed.


Currently, councils, governmental bodies and organisations are running events, workshops, networking breakfasts and guidance seminars for businesses like Community Directories, helping SME owners communicate with one another and preparing them for a myriad of eventualities that may occur in the coming months and years.


Of interest to SMEs on the island of Ireland is the ‘Getting Ireland Brexit Ready’ initiative, organised by the Irish government. With workshops and talks in locations ranging from Dublin, Galway to Monaghan town, SMEs of all sizes will find useful information on how to prepare for the new business climate.

Listen to experts, watch the markets and get involved

While the post-Brexit landscape remains unknown territory, it seems extremely likely that any exchange of goods or monies between the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, the UK and the EU will become more complex and time-consuming.

 Up until now, trade between EU states required no duties, taxes or customs clearance. But after the 29th of March, businesses' operational costs are likely to increase substantially, as they factor in not only the extra tariffs they may need to pay, but the additional paperwork, software and technology required to stay on the right side of new regulations.

Keeping abreast of ongoing developments in terms of trade deals, costings and the most up to date information about the economy in the UK and EU is of paramount importance, especially in these uncertain times where every day it feels as though a new development (or backtrack) is occurring.

With this in mind, the following podcasts should be of interest to SME owners who want to keep on top of the newest grant opportunities, tax breaks and tariffs available:

  • Beyond Brexit
     PriceWaterhouseCooper offer a podcast series covering Brexit-related events and issues affecting business and the economy. With a host of well-known economics experts and episodes on trade, immigration and economic implications, PWC cover all bases.
  • Brexit Unspun
     With an exacting look at Brexit and tech, citizens’ rights, environmental issues, the border, links with China and more, the Financial Times offer a rigorous and intellectual interrogation of a variety of issues that Brexit touches – a must-listen for SMEs facing the unknown.
  • Holywell Trust Brexit focus series
     For an intimate look at the situation in the border area of the north-west of Ireland, the Holywell Trust’s cultural and social podcast series features eminent economic guests such as Paul Gosling who talks economy, accountancy and future-proofing our lives and businesses for life post March 2019.
  • The Brexit Debate – The Irish Times Podcast
     With eminent academics and economists such as Professor John Fitzgerald (LSE) helming this internationally-minded podcast, listeners get to grips with ongoing issues from an Irish perspective. Necessary listening for SMEs in the Republic, The Brexit Debate mixes top-notch journalism with intellectual financial musings on what has happened and what is yet to come in regards to Brexit.

Moving forward

We can't forecast the future. However, many leading economists predict the UK may join the European Economic Area (EEA) and adopt a position similar to that of Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Although this is a best-case scenario, where taxes on imports wouldn't be required, the process of importing would still change, leading to additional charges and administrative costs.

When it comes to exports, UK countries that want to export to the EU - and vice versa - will at the very least have to provide commercial invoices, pay duties, assign commodity codes and negotiate with customs.

Whether any of these predictions come to fruition, at this point in time we’ve really no way of knowing what deal - or no deal - might be reached, SMEs shouldn't be tempted to sit things out. Navigating these uncertain times successfully requires careful preparation now. By getting involved with local and international groups and listening to experts in the field, SMEs in the north and south of Ireland equip themselves with the best possible armour to fight for their business post-Brexit.

Analyse your supply chain and finances to see where and how your business might be affected. Be ready with solutions, so if the worst does happen, your business will be in the best possible shape for success.



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