When the U.K. left the EU in January it brought some much-needed certainty for British business owners. While there are still concerns about the outcome of trade talks and how it will impact business, a growing number of entrepreneurs already have Brexit strategies in place, and are exploring fresh opportunities beyond the EU, and feeling upbeat about the future.
The Link App
The legal profession varies from country to country, but the need for good customer service and client communication applies across all international borders.
In 2014 Lauren Riley founded The Link App with the aim of transforming the client experience provided by law firms. It was her own frustrations as a former solicitor over the lack of pace and clarity in the legal profession that gave her the idea and led her to start her own business.
This year the focus is on global expansion, and Riley is looking to the U.S. and Australia for mentoring and business model advice. She says: “We’ve been advised by a team in Silicon Valley since 2018, and I’ve just been to Sydney to work with a reseller over there. It is a personal approach that helps us to understand the idiosyncrasies of each market and adapt our UK model to fit the different audiences.”
It is early days, but the early indicators are positive, with Australia particularly keen to adopt new technology. The Link App will be launched in the APAC (Asia Pacific) region via a reseller in the first quarter of 2020.
However, most of their business is in the U.K. and Europe, and Riley doesn’t envisage Brexit having any real impact on that. In fact, the first new client they signed the day after Brexit was based in Portugal.
Riley says: “Because we are a tech company we don’t anticipate many of the problems that other industries may face. For example, we don’t have major product deliveries, we don’t deal with border controls and nothing is at risk of being slowed down. I don’t see Brexit preventing us from engaging with our EU friends. For us, it is very much business as usual.”
Naturally Tribal Skincare
Skincare brand Naturally Tribal Skincare, which uses ancient African remedies in its natural, organic skincare line, has also adopted a global strategy. Working with the U.K. Department of international trade (DIT), the company identified several overseas markets, including the U.S. and Africa, where the beauty market is booming
It recently secured a deal with Perfect Trust, one of the largest cosmetic distributors in Nigeria, where the beauty and personal care markets are worth an estimated £3 billion.
Naturally Tribal Skincare is also a CommonwealthFirst Export Champion, having received training, mentoring, and access to trade missions and business development support to help them tap into new business opportunities in the fast-growing Commonwealth markets.
Founder Shalom Lloyd says: “Being a CommonwealthFirst Export Champion has opened doors to a prestigious organization that gives us links to over two billion potential customers across 54 countries. The opportunities for international trade and business networking are limitless, and we have the credibility, authenticity and the potential that makes us attractive to businesses inside and outside the Commonwealth.”
Some business owners are counting on post-EC/U.K. trade talk changes closer to home to create fresh opportunities for domestic growth.
Construction industry startup EasyMerchant supplies building materials for homes, roadworks, and other construction projects across the U.K. Launched in 2018 the small family business is on track to turn over more than £1 million in the next 12 months.
Cofounder Lee Finbow says: “We are hoping that Brexit will be a benefit. The problem for British manufacturers and suppliers such as ourselves has been the fact that with no trade barriers, the market has been flooded by large European suppliers selling cheap products that force the prices down for everyone.”
For British companies, this has resulted in tighter margins and a much finer dividing line between turning a profit or loss. Finbow is optimistic that Brexit will deter British companies from buying from the EU, especially if there are trade barriers.
“U.K. suppliers and manufacturers will be able to fare better, as long as the raw materials to produce the products are kept free from tariffs,” he adds. “Less competition from European competitors would remove some of the barriers to business growth that have emerged as result of these issues. This will be a huge benefit to us.”
Businesses in the finance sector have been at the sharp end of uncertainty of the last three years. However, leaving the EU has helped U.K. investment research firm Woozle Research, which provides investment research to institutional investors over the world, make its services more accessible to global investor on the back of a weaker FX rate.
Founder and managing director Mark Pacitti says: “We are also seeing an increase in the number of private equity and hedge funds looking to buy U.K. domiciled businesses and assets. They are keen to take advantage of the reduced prices, short-term uncertainty, and potentially lucrative long-term prospects the U.K. has to offer relative to other countries where investment yields are virtually zero.”
The U.K. share of Woozle’s research has more than doubled in the last 18-months with a growing number of inbound research requests from private equity clients for channel checks on U.K.-based SMEs acquisition prospects.