Resources to help SME’s prepare for Brexit

In this post, we have gathered some of the Brexit resources available to Irish SME’s. We have also summarised some of the highlights following a Brexit briefing by the Galway Local Enterprise Office (LEO) at the Portershed with Intertrade CEO Thomas Hunter McGowan and business consultant and Brexit mentor John Havel.

Uncertainty around Brexit continues with only 7 quarters remaining before the March 2019 deadline. Today, Britain and EU begin the first day of formal negotiations. With an extensive agenda, Ireland will be low on the priority list. For small and medium enterprises across the island of Ireland, it is clear that Brexit is beyond our control.

We may have become accustomed to the stability of the European Union but politics has always been a factor in the formation and growth of businesses. While Brexit is a serious proposition, politics as a business concern is not new. The uncertainty does not, and should not, paralyse SME’s. Action can be taken today and planning can begin for the potential scenarios.

Should You Prepare for Brexit? 

There are four freedoms that form the basis for the Single European Market:

  1. Free movement of goods
  2. Free movement of services
  3. Free movement of capital
  4. Free movement of labour

If you are the owner or leader of an SME in Ireland, you should ask yourself:

  • Does my organisation avail of any of these four freedoms?
  • Does my supply chain avail of any of these four freedoms?

As an example, the introduction of VAT and duty on imports at the point of entry from the UK could be an unforeseen cost of up to 30% that may take 6 weeks to recover. A strong plan will instil confidence in financiers, such as your bank, and will enable you to manage a shift in such cash flows.   

Consider Threats and Opportunities

Though Ireland could face a range of tariffs and barriers in trading with the UK, the UK will, in turn, face similar barriers in trading with Europe. Though this will make trading with our largest partner more difficult, it will make Irish SME’s more competitive within the EU than their UK counterparts. In addition, recent research had indicated that 98% of exporting SME’s have no contingency plan for Brexit. Your competitors may be in this 98%. 

Preparation for Brexit does not require a new model. The functions outlined by Intertrade and Enterprise Ireland are the same functions you should be considering for your business, regardless of the current political climate:

  1. Business Strategy
  2. Sales and Marketing
  3. Operations
  4. Finance
  5. People and Management
  6. Innovation

Intertrade emphasises the opportunity to use Brexit as a catalyst to innovate and improve efficiency, outlining the following points that are elaborated further in the linked resources in this post:

  1. Business Planning
  2. Lean Techniques
  3. Innovation
  4. Diversification
  5. Exchange Rate Management
  6. Value Adding Relationships

One of the key messages from Thomas Hunter McGowan was that now is the time to strengthen your relationships with your UK customers and suppliers. 

Brexit Resources and Supports

Our state and representative bodies have made supports and tools for SME’s that can assist you in preparation for Brexit. These include digital resources, one on one assessments and support funds. 

Local Enterprise Office Mentoring and Programmes

Local Enterprise Offices (LEO) are providing Brexit mentoring and training along with their existing technical assistance and innovation programmes. You can contact your local LEO office to find out more

Enterprise Ireland Brexit SME Scorecard

This is a free planning tool for Irish exporters to the UK and is designed to help you assess your Brexit business readiness. You can access this tool here

Enterprise Ireland ‘Be Prepared Grant’

The ‘Be Prepared Grant’ is a support for Enterprise Ireland clients to assist them in preparing a Brexit action plan. You can apply for this grant here

InterTradeIreland Brexit Advisory Service

InterTradeIreland is providing a range of support services, events and information guides for Brexit. You can find out about ‘One to One Supports’ and other services here

InterTradeIreland Brexit Readiness Vouchers

As a small business, you may need some professional advice in relation to Brexit matters. InterTradeIreland offers financial support of up to £1,000 (euro equivalent) plus vat towards these services. You can check your eligibility and make an application here

Guides and Research

Department of Finance: Exposure analysis of sectors of the Irish economy

Enterprise Ireland: A new guide for Irish business post UK referendum

Enterprise Ireland: Regional opportunities in the UK

Enterprise Ireland: Information guide for Irish exporters to the UK

InterTradeIreland: Potential impact of WTO tariffs on cross-border trade

InterTradeIreland: Brexit Case Studies – May 2017