Planning for Brexit – Exporting Advice for UK SMEs

Colin McCullagh | 18 Oct 2018 | UK and Ireland Perspective

Man drawing plan for team in an office


Being in Belfast brings Brexit closer to home as we have clients and associates on both sides of the Irish border. It is difficult to imagine the loss of the frictionless border after so many, for so long, have built their lives around it. It is integral to the local economies of both Northern Ireland (NI) and the Republic of Ireland (RoI). For example, up to a third of NI’s dairy is processed in RoI and Irish businesses like Kerry Group, Glanbia and Lakeland have infrastructure in NI. There is an island-wide trade network that is crucial to both the NI & ROI economies.

A successful Brexit for UK companies is dependent upon well-established connections with our closest trading partners in Europe and, crucially, expand the United Kingdom’s trade with other nations outside the EU. To jeopardise the UK’s closest ties, would not be a good precedent for the future of trade.

The question is, how can businesses prepare today to ensure they are ready for what Brexit holds?

  1. Recognise the time for new opportunity: It is time to take the leap. Brexit means that you can no longer rely on your traditional networks, but instead provides the chance to open your business up to new markets. SMEs can trade internationally and there are government resources available to help SMEs reach a global marketplace, through the likes of the Department for International Trade (DIT) – but, it must be done in the right way.
  1. Understand your potential: At the core of every decision a company makes should be a simple goal. This should influence every aspect of your investment.  International ventures must be ambitious but achievable, and chosen for the right reasons. Every business wants to develop and make more revenue, but these aren’t always the best reasons to enter new markets.  It is important to know what your unique selling point is when choosing a goal. What is it that makes you different from your competitors?
  1. Assess your target market: Every business looking to expand internationally needs to do their homework.  Assessing the market is crucial. Countless businesses we have worked with have stated that they entered a market without fully understanding it. This led to money and time being spent working out how to function.  Imagine if all that information was there before you enter the market.  OCO Global Exporting can help a company assess a chosen market, remove barriers that could cost money, and decrease the time it takes to see a return on investment.
  1. Use the resources available to you: We talk to many businesses who are investing internationally but have not accessed a wealth of resources available to them. This can include everything from financial incentives, distribution support, partnership development and introducing your business to the right people that can help establish a sure footing in an international market(s).  OCO Global Exporting are the exclusive partners for DIT in North America and work with Economic Development Organisations around the globe. We can facilitate the best resources that companies want to utilize. It is good to know that these types of services are not just for the large multi-national corporations but can be used by SMEs and start-ups as well.
  1. Expand your horizons: Think beyond what you may consider to be the safe bet. There are new markets where your product or service may flourish that you may never have considered before. While we are in a period of relative uncertainty, Brexit can open the door to new global markets– be it in Australia, Asia or the Middle-East.

We’re offering a free Priority Market Assessment to get you started, for more information click here.