UK elections are coming up on June 8th. With the Scottish independence referendum in 2014, general elections in 2015, the EU referendum in 2016, and yet another general election coming up, UK citizens are probably electorally-burnt out. British business owners are waiting to see if Brexit will be hard or soft, which will have a major impact on access to the single market, and some are still hoping that it won’t happen at all.
Theresa May is hoping her party wins more seats in the House of Commons in order to have stronger bargaining power during the Brexit negotiations. Jeremy Corbyn, on the other hand, is looking forward to the upcoming debates and the possibility that his Labour party will take control of the Parliament. Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats are campaigning to hold a second referendum in order stop Brexit from happening at all.
It should make for an interesting election to say the least. But how will Brexit impact small businesses? Well, until the negotiations are complete, one word can sum it all up: Uncertainty. However, there have already been some immediate impacts since the referendum took place last year and there are some things you can do to expand your business overseas despite what may (or may not) happen in the coming months and years.
The immediate impact of the referendum was a drop in the sterling’s value against the dollar (and the euro). Though this sent some people into a panic, those involved in cross-border sales reaped many benefits. International shoppers stampeded towards British retailers and bought UK products with fervor. British exporters have been smiling lately whether they voted for or against Brexit.
Get ‘em while they’re hot!
British goods are popular around the world. That’s quite clear. How popular exactly? Well, if you check out the chart below, it shows exactly how popular British goods are in Europe.
As you can see, the UK ranks in the top three for all of the nations mentioned (with the exception of Switzerland where they landed in the top 5). When it comes down to it, British products are still quite popular abroad. This fact simply can’t be ignored.
What to do when selling internationally
There are a lot of things to consider when expanding your business to sell abroad. Some of those things include:
- Protecting yourself from high exchange rates – Finding the right payment service provider can save you lots of money by avoiding the hidden fees that banks are notorious for.
- Improve logistics – Making deals with freight carriers can save you money as well. Besides that, having multiple shipping options is never a bad idea. People like choices and one customer might not mind waiting 4-6 weeks for a product, while another customer might need the same product as soon as possible.
- Build a reputation of trust – Let’s face it. Your company is probably completely unknown in foreign countries. There are a few great ways to build trust, whether that means displaying a trustmark, collecting reviews, or offering locally preferred payment options. The main thing here is to get your website known for quality products and service. These are the most important things to establish when you’re unknown to new potential customers.
The vote to leave the EU may be over (don’t tell that to the Liberal Democrats), but the negotiations with the EU are just getting started. Hard Brexit or soft Brexit? No one knows that yet, but one thing is clear: as of now, the UK is still in the EU and it will most likely take two years until the final farewell. That means that the single market is still accessible to all right now. Our advice: take advantage while you can.
I’ve written an in-depth whitepaper on Brexit. It’s free – just click on the link below and check it out.
About the author
Alon Eisenberg grew up in New York City and graduated from Boston University with a bachelor's in Communications. He's a marketing enthusiast who enjoys researching many topics ranging from e-commerce to education. With a thirst for knowledge, Alon has a creative, yet analytical approach to his work. He has been the Copy Editor UK at Trusted Shops since March, 2017.