Brexit: the greatest business opportunity for a generation?

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We hear a constant stream of news and expert opinion about the significant challenges Brexit will bring to UK exporters, it almost feels like a doomsday scenario! Yes, we need to be prepared and there will be changes to the way we do business, but what about the opportunities? 

There are not a lot of column inches or posts on social media looking at the positives, yet potentially they are equally significant. The Government is now free from the restraints of the EU and can make decisions based purely on what’s best for UK business. 

Many UK businesses, if they export at all, have only contemplated the EU up to now. That is understandable as they are our near neighbours and until 31st December our partners. Exporting to the EU is easy with free movement of goods and simplified VAT procedures for example. Selling to France is almost the same as selling to Sheffield. 

From next year we become just another third-party country and subject to the same customs rules and regulations as any non-EU country. The extent to which there will be duties and red tape depends on if we reach an agreement with Brussels in time. The indications are not good and the strings they try to attach may be too much for the UK Government to agree. 

So, ok every business is going to have to learn how to complete customs declarations, how to prepare all relevant paperwork and follow the new rules. It’s a learning curve but it’s not insurmountable. There are plenty of training courses out there and the Government is providing grants to ensure the cost is not a burden. You can also use a Customs Broker to take the hassle away if you so choose. 

We should look at this process as a positive. There’s no going back, so prepare and then move on. We will all now have new skills, knowledge and experience of exporting which will prepare us to broaden our horizons. We will have been taken out of our EU comfort zone and into a world of opportunities. Suddenly, from a procedural perspective, it is much the same process to sell to the US, China and Japan as it is to sell to France or Germany. 

Stop thinking EU and starting thinking World! 

There is a huge world of opportunities out there for you to consider. Broaden your horizons and look to expand your business in ways you perhaps never considered previously. 

But don’t just rush in. Consider carefully which countries to focus on. What is the size of the market? What are the barriers to entry? How do you assess and compare different countries? Exporting needs to be approached in a strategic, planned manner so as to find the right opportunities, avoid the costly mistakes and blind alleys.

Download our ‘7 Steps to Export Success’ ebook for a step by step guide to becoming a successful exporter. It will take you through the process we use with clients to identify and prioritise target countries and define the best route-to-market strategy. 

The first step is to narrow down the Where? 

Which countries provide sufficient opportunity for you to target? Look at any market research you have readily available, review your in-house data for where your enquiries and customers come from, see where your competitors sell and a key consideration in the post Brexit era will be to follow closely the development of Free Trade Agreements between the UK and other countries or regions, the EU included. 

Free Trade Agreements are designed to facilitate and promote trade between the parties, to ease the process, reduce or eliminate tariffs, cut red tape. As such they a good sign post to which areas to consider closely in your export planning. Details of agreements under discussion and already agreed can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/uk-trade-agreements-with-non-eu-countries

Once you have narrowed down the Where? to the main potential markets, the next task is to prioritise and match your ambitions to your resources. It’s no use targeting the world if you only have one person in export and are running at 95% production capacity! Focus in the right areas is the key. 

To set priorities it is necessary to evaluate the Barriers to Entry in each country. Look at product approvals, competition, currency, language, freight costs, customs regulations, duties, country risk etc. 

When we carry out this process on behalf of a client, we consolidate all of the above information into a scoring system, weighting each barrier to entry for importance and assessing the pros and cons, the potential versus the risk. This is used to give a numerical rating for each country which allows us to compare the opportunity in different countries in a scientific rather than gut feel manner. 

It’s a process which can take time and effort but ultimately can save thousands in helping you make the best-informed decision possible. 

So, forget the doomsday scenario, think past Brexit and Covid-19. Look to the future, to the opportunities, to the profits and the adventures!

Go Exporting is a specialist consultancy helping companies just like yours to expand in international markets. For a free consultation on the help and support you need to open a world of opportunities see https:/goexporting.com, email mike.wilson@goexporting.com or call +44 (0)800 689 1423.

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