Brexit flextension and its impact on businesses

In conversation with Colin Bell, Business Growth Director at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership

“I’m sure you’ll agree it’s been a very tumultuous few months for businesses as parliament continues to try to break the Brexit deadlock, with the latest attempt focused on a General Election on 12 December.

“Are we in, or are we out? Do we have a deal or is it no deal? It’s left many businesses very confused about what they need to do to make sure they’re ready for when Brexit does happen.

“If anything the heightened urgency placed on leaving the EU on 31 October has helped to raise awareness in more businesses as to what they need to do to prepare for leaving the EU. The flextension in part offers businesses more time to make preparations but in contrast it also means that many investment decisions remain on hold which will have an inevitable and extended impact on the economy. So what can businesses do to remove some of the uncertainty?

“Over the past few weeks we’ve been sharing a lot of new content through our Brexit Toolkit on the North East Growth Hub to help businesses cut through the noise. If you haven’t visited the toolkit in a while, I’d encourage you to do so because all the information is still relevant.

“A few things that businesses should be thinking about include:

“In uncertain times the statement ‘cash is king’ is ever more prevalent. Review your costs and consider where you might be able to make savings. What steps can you take to improve debtor management and increase working capital? It’s important to keep an eye on the bottom line.

“Take a look at your customer base and consider if you’re keeping all your eggs in one basket. If you rely too heavily on one customer you could face an aftershock if that company hits hard times. Bringing in new customers or clients will make your business more resilient.

“Do some resilience planning and consider all the factors that could impact your business. What would happen, for example, if the demand reduces or exchange rates change dramatically? What would that mean for your company? Consider all the outcomes and plan for them. The more prepared you are, the less risk to your business.

“In uncertain times sales cycles can be difficult to predict, with unexpected curve balls delaying or taking expected orders off the table. Take a fresh look at your sales pipeline and when you expect sales to land. What would it mean if the order doesn’t hit when expected?

“And then plan for the exciting part when certainty returns, when decisions begin to flow, when orders pick up. How can you put your business on the crest of the wave, putting it in a prime position to capitalise?

“As part of our work supporting businesses in the North East with Brexit preparedness, we’ve been circuiting a survey asking people what they’ve done to get ready. We’d really like to know what impact this current delay is having.

“Do you welcome the flextension or does it mean more uncertainly for your business? Will you continue to prepare for Brexit or will you wait to see what happens after the General Election? All feedback is really important as it will help organisations like the North East LEP provide advice and guidance that will help your business. You can complete the survey by clicking here.

“For the latest information on Brexit, visit the North East Growth Hub’s free Brexit Toolkit. You can also speak to our Growth Hub Connectors for free, impartial advice about how to prepare for Brexit.”

Colin Bell
Business Growth Director
North East Local Enterprise Partnership