Expanding your business to Europe - the Brexit factor


Date: 12 September 2018

Expanding your business to Europe - the Brexit factorMoving abroad in and of itself is a Big Deal. Moving abroad, with your business and staff members in tow, all while entering a new and uncertain market? A whole other ball game.

Now, when you take a glance at all the challenges of a post-Brexit world, you might well be put off even bothering. Many UK small businesses are making strategy changes, with a 2017 survey suggesting almost half (46%) believe Brexit will hinder entrance to new markets.

A brief Brexit overview

The Brexit negotiations may be ongoing at the time of writing, but they aren't really getting anywhere. As the Conservatives descend into vicious party politics, Theresa May is frantically trying to hash out a deal with EU bigwigs.

As it stands, Britain is due to leave the EU on 29 March 2019; however, details regarding trade and living abroad logistics for Brits in the EU and vice versa are still very much being hashed out.

(This regularly updated BBC article will be able to tell you all you need to know.)

The core stuff you need to know

With any expansion into a new market, there are plenty of factors to consider. Here are some of the most important things to put on your To Do list before branching out:

  1. Research the demographics of your new prospective country carefully. Spain and Italy are both Southern Mediterranean destinations, for example, but their cultural practices differ significantly.
  2. Make sure you're bringing something to the new market. Are you offering a product or service that fits with the lifestyle of the local people? It's your job to adapt to them, not the other way around.

The not-so-obvious stuff

Expanding into a new European market will bring its own unique set of problems post-Brexit. No longer will Brits be able to easily up sticks and head to a new country in search of a better lifestyle or more enticing work prospects.

However, there are some ways to prepare yourself and boost your chances of success. The specifics will obviously change from country to country, so take these tips as a broad overview to European expansion.

Go where the grants are

This might not be possible for your business, or country of choice. But if you're open to new opportunities and want to expand your market, look for countries that can offer grants or other financial incentives (such as tax breaks) to small business owners.

Take Wales (yes, we know it's still in the UK), for example. They're currently investing hundreds of thousands into developing business and economic growth in poor areas, offering incentives for businesses to set up shop and boost employment. Find something similar in Europe, and you're onto a winner.

Be flexible

To stay successful, you need to start being flexible in this new, shifting post-Brexit world. Remaining immobile and uncompromising is the surest way to see your business sink.

So, when planning a move overseas, consider more than one option; take some time (but not too much) to research some alternatives. Basically, have a Plan B. After all, according to almost half of SMEs, finding the best opportunities is one of the key roadblocks to an overseas move.

Get cracking

Another tip that could help out some businesses get off the ground with European clients or in new European locations is get moving - now, before the going gets really tough post-Brexit.

Red tape already exists in abundance when it comes to business in Europe, and costs can be high, so we can only assume (speculatively, of course) that neither of those issues will improve once ties are severed with our mainland friends.

Hot tip: If you want to take the edge off the organisation, consider hiring an employer of record (EOR) to do the heavy (metaphorical) lifting for you. They can really smooth the process of international expansion, and even speed it up.

Take the stress out of the actual move

It's easy to let the weight of business negotiations, trade deals and language barriers get you down as you move and expand into Europe post-Brexit. So, for the actual move, get the professionals in to lend a hand.

International removals experts such as buzzmove can help you get your office ready in no time, or just take away the stress of shifting your personal belongings to mainland Europe.

Or…skip it

For all the benefits of heading overseas, expanding your business into Europe and further afield, there are plenty of barriers up at the moment. While some might feel confident in their ability to overcome them, for others it might just simply not be the right time.

But there's no shame in sitting on an expansion plan until the dust settles on trade deals, rules and regulations.

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