As Brexit approaches us, now is the time that Welsh businesses should be planning strategies for engaging not only EU-based markets, but also new markets that will emerge by necessity in the very near future.
Leaving the European Union will require the UK to develop new economic trade agreements with countries in the rest of the world – such as the United States, China, India and the Commonwealth.
Setting up trade agreements with these countries will only become a reality once the UK has left the EU officially, and agreements will also be essential with countries who already have a trading agreement with the EU (which, of course, we’ll be leaving behind).
Also, although it seems to be a neglected slant on Brexit, these countries will have to trade with the UK, as we are a major market for most countries - in or out of the EU.
These arrangements will all take time, but it’s likely the UK’s trading relationships with Europe and the rest of the world will experience significant change over the coming years.
Essentially, the world is soon to become a much bigger and diverse challenge to businesses. But, this could be a great opportunity to boost profits, given that you plan correctly for the change.
Here are four things you should consider to prepare your business for Brexit.
If your business is to make the most of Brexit, it’s crucial that you begin planning now – and you should start by understanding how your business works.
Every business has (or should have!) a business plan – but it may have been a while since you sat down and thought about how your business runs on a day-to-day basis.
A simple technique called Business Process Modelling can help you streamline your current business systems and operations, no matter what size your business is.
Business Process Modelling is a method used for improving business efficiency and quality. It is commonly displayed as a diagram representing a sequence of activities. It typically shows events, actions and links or connection points, in the sequence from end to end.
Typically, a Business Process Model includes both IT processes (including websites, social media strategies, etc.) and people processes. It aims to improve business performance by optimising the efficiency of connecting activities leading to the provision of a product or service.
By mapping your workflow through this method, you can begin to understand, analyse and positively change your business’ processes. There are many various software available to support Business Process Modelling, but the basic principles can be applied using a pen and paper (or a roll of wallpaper, depending how complex your business is!).
Get to grips with language
You may soon move into trade areas where English (or Welsh!) is no longer the lingua franca.
It is crucial that you can communicate effectively with customers, suppliers and business partners – and there are a number of ways of approaching this possible barrier.
Tools such as web-based translation companies, and localised translation software can be useful. However, whilst translation technology has improved greatly through the past few years, it’s still advisable to have a fluent speaker or professional translator check your essential communications and your websites to avoid any slip ups or even huge blunders!
If you plan to do business with partners or customers in a non-English speaking region for an extended period of time, learning the language can save you money on translation costs and give you leverage against competing businesses. There are numerous online learning facilities for most major languages, and, of course, software programs that can help you become fluent in a foreign language, whether it be Chinese or German.
The willingness to learn a commercial partner’s language will go a long way towards easing the transit to a much wider market.
Whether for your market, or your suppliers, you will need to be able to move your products across boundaries (physical or artificial). Receiving and tracking shipments requires a lot of careful consideration and planning.
Once you have identified your market, logistics management systems can help bear the brunt of the issues around international shipping. Tracking technology can also be a huge help to ensure your deliveries are getting through on time and to the correct locations. This can save you time, money and, most importantly, customers!
To provide the most efficient methods, electronic shipment tracking technology is already available which can help plan trade routes, monitor any trade restrictions, and track shipments.
Explore how technology can support your business changes
As you plan for Brexit, explore some of the other ways technology can help you grow, whether it’s by providing better customer service, improving your logistics or helping you communicate with your customers. You can refer back to your Business Process Modelling activities to highlight key points that could benefit from automated or digital processes.
When you’re right in the middle of your business, it can be difficult to objectively look at the things you need to change or improve, so take a look how we can help you by creating bespoke, detailed digital action plan to give you clear steps and advice to grow your business. It’s free of charge – so register your business today!
Taking time now to review and update your processes will all contribute to your future business success, post-Brexit.
Superfast Business Wales is a free business support service that helps eligible small and medium sized Welsh businesses make the most of online technology. Click here to see more.