Leadership & Productivity

How to shield a growing business against Brexit uncertainties

5 min read

23 August 2017

The hardest thing for any growing business to effectively handle is the unknown. It’s trying to prepare and plan for whatever challenges may present themselves along the road ahead.

It’s a tough enough task at the best of times but the difficulty has been magnified by Brexit uncertainties and the on-ongoing trade negotiations between the UK government and the European Union.

It’s a situation with no clear endpoint, with predictions that talks between the two sides could go well beyond the original two-year time frame. In the meantime, there remain a number of risk factors to consider.

A business looking to trade overseas needs to identify the potential impact of tariffs, levies and any shift in trading agreements. Each company needs to assess the risks of fluctuating currency rates as markets react to each and every Brexit announcement.

A business must also consider what kind of future staff challenges it could face if changes are made to freedom of movement legislation. Attention must be paid to every area of a business where costs are liable to significantly rise or fall.

This all creates something of a dilemma for a growing company. You can’t put your business on hold but neither do you want to be taking unnecessary risks while travelling through such uncharted waters.

Coping mechanisms

While so much remains uncertain, one thing we can accurately predict is that Brexit will continue to create a more volatile and unpredictable business environment, one which is prone to fluctuation and change.

So the best coping mechanism for an SME is to create an organisation with the flexibility and agility to handle any kind of future challenge. It means future-proofing a business so that it’s ready for global working.

A study by professional services network, PwC, predicts a major post Brexit shift in UK exports, away from EU countries and towards emerging markets such as Canada, India, China and Israel.

It means that growing businesses will need to able to handle the challenge of exploring new markets – coping with multiple currencies and fluctuating exchange rates, while staying compliant within different legal jurisdictions.

Smarter systems

It’s an area where digital systems and automated processes are going to play an increasingly influential role. They provide companies with the kind of robust and flexible set-ups that reduce risk and minimise wasted administration time.

An effective digital system gives an organisation the confidence to stop worrying so much about future unknowns and to remain focused on charting the best path forward, ready to maximise any opportunities that present themselves.

A system such as webexpenses is designed to do that – to take the strain off finance teams and give them the tools needed to keep a grip on business costs and the flexibility to handle whatever changes are necessary.

A digital system does this by removing the logistic headaches that can stifle companies, especially when facing the complexities of global working. It allows a company to easily handle multiple currencies with automatic exchange rate tracking and conversion.

If a claim is made retrospectively, the system works out the correct currency rate for the time and location of the purchase. It removes the resource sapping and error prone need to manual juggle fluctuating currencies.

Digital systems will also prove to be invaluable when it comes to coping with the intricacies of tax compliance. With each country having it’s own rules and rates, it can be a daunting and dangerous area to get to grips with.

With a digital expense set-up, specific tax rules can be automatically applied to expense categories based on location, it allows business to maintain compliance and to ensure they keep track of any tax reimbursements they’re entitled to.

By minimising risk and reducing wastage, an effective digital set-up can provide significant competitive advantages to those businesses looking to thrive in a post Brexit world.

So while a crystal ball many remain as the only reliable way we can predict the outcome of the current Brexit negotiations, there are practical ways we can prepare our organisations for future challenges.

With a positive mindset and effective use of digital systems, we have the tools needed to remain focused on ensuring growth and productivity, rather than wasting precious time worrying about Brexit uncertainties and the unknown.

Webexpenses provides a smarter way to manage and monitor employee expenses. Find out how it can handle your petty cash by requesting a free demo.