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The past two months have been a political whirlwind. The Conservative Party won a “stonking” parliamentary majority in the December 2019 general election, allowing Boris Johnson to easily pass his Withdrawal Agreement in early January. Putting politics aside, after years of hostility and prevarication since the EU Referendum of 2016, this new-found consensus that the UK is leaving the EU at the end of January is welcome.

It also means that business leaders are finally able to plan for the future with some confidence. This trend has been seen for some time. According to recent research by Studio Graphene, three quarters (75%) of UK tech startups are confident that their organisations will grow over the coming year. On the other hand, many had concerns around talent acquisition. A huge proportion (69%) are worried Brexit will make it harder to find the new tech talent needed to grow. Many are likely to have concerns about the future of the economy and what the UK’s final relationship with the EU will look like. So, what can be done to prepare?

Consider going abroad!

It may be high time to improve (or make!) ties with international partners post-Brexit. At Studio Graphene, we concluded that opening a new office in a European tech centre, Lisbon, was the right move for us. As we had offices already in Switzerland and India, we understood the process and benefits of forming a team overseas. We’re now able to have unfettered access to the EU market indefinitely — a huge bonus for the business long-term. Of course, this option will not be suitable for all businesses, so make sure you do thorough due diligence before committing to a move! 

Remember, there’s lots of talent options available 

Talent is likely to be a huge concern for many firms post-Brexit, so thoroughly research your options on how to prepare your teams for the future. For many firms, the most fulfilling and cost-effective strategy will be upskilling current team members, as it allows you to nurture existing talent and avoid recruitment costs. If that’s not possible, and you need to recruit from abroad, then remember that there are other agile options available. For example, you could set up an International Professional Employer Organisation, which allows an ‘Employer of Record’ to handle the admin, whilst you focus on the day-to-day running of your business.

Model and save

Whatever the long-term outcome of Brexit, there is a chance that uncertainty could continue until the future relationship is entirely established. As such, it could be worth saving for a ‘buffer fund’ to cushion any financial backlash during the transition. When doing so, it’s worth incorporating how future tariffs and export rates, for example, will impact your costs and bottom line. Let this inform your financial goals so Brexit has no chance of coming back to bite.

Look to the UK and further abroad

It’s important to remember that the UK has ample market opportunities, too! Despite the general cloud of uncertainty that has surrounded Brexit, the amount of venture capital investment into British technology firms climbed to a record £10.1 billion in 2019. This demonstrates huge promise for the future of the sector.

There are also new trade opportunities on the horizon; if the UK does strike free-trade deals with the likes of Australia and Canada, maximising on ‘Brand Britain’ and looking to enter these kinds of markets could pay dividends.

Seek consultation 

Even after conducting independent research about post-Brexit options, confusion can still reign. In this case, it might be advisable to approach a business consultant for guidance. There are numerous Brexit and management consultancies, who will be able to guide you through the confusion. Whilst they do charge, they will be able to assess all aspects of your organisation and help you to find a solution to best fit your needs.

Tech firms were rightly concerned about Brexit, but as certainty is slowly restored, organisations can begin to plan for the future with greater confidence. There are plenty of viable options for a variety of tech businesses. What is important, however, is to conduct thorough research to ensure your organization finds the most suitable option.

 Ritam worked as a consultant for a decade for the likes of Accenture and Bank of America Merrill Lynch before, in 2014, going on to found Studio Graphene – a firm that specialises in developing amazing blank canvas tech products. Working with many startups alongside innovation teams in more established companies, the London-based agency plans, designs and builds astounding tech products for its clients. What’s more, Ritam and the team also use their experience and expertise to help leaders grow their business from ideation, to launch and beyond.

Last modified on Monday, 03 February 2020
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