How to grow your business in Europe in spite of Brexit

29 December 2020 4 min. read
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The UK formally withdrew from the European Union as of the 31st of January 2020, triggering a transition period which expires at the end of the 31st of December. With time fast running out, the fine details of a deal still hang in the balance – however according to Annie Button, whatever happens before the New Year, businesses still have opportunities to grow their customer bases on both sides of the Channel.

There is no doubt that Brexit is going to have a big impact on businesses. This impact has been debated for its potential positive and negative consequences, but in any case it seems clear that things are going to change. However, it is also important to recognise that life goes on and businesses will still want to grow and expand the same way.

For many businesses, this means pushing into new markets – and so companies from the UK will want to grow in Europe. Here we take a look at how businesses can grow their operation in Europe despite the challenges caused by Brexit.

The EU is still ready to help

No matter the outcome of Brexit or how it affects the legalities surrounding businesses, the UK and Europe will still need to trade with each other. And of course, the EU will benefit from innovation and diversity from British businesses entering their market. So British companies looking to expand into Europe will still be important and welcomed despite Brexit.

The EU has created useful and important guides on all of the issues surrounding British businesses operating in Europe. These should be studied closely as they contain the vital information needed to ensure that you are doing everything right.

Stay up-to-date with relevant laws

While the UK was a part of the EU there was a simplicity surrounding laws of businesses in the UK expanding into Europe, or British citizens starting up new businesses on the continent. This is because British citizens were also considered EU citizens and had the same rights as all Europeans.

However, Brexit may have changed that. It is not yet clear exactly how Brexit will affect laws, nor whether these laws will change over time. The thing that must be stated is that British businesses need to stay up-to-date with these laws and any changes made to them, as they may affect the ways you are able to operate.

Take things slow

It is undoubtedly good advice to proceed with caution at the moment. Not only are the terms of Brexit still being negotiated and discussed, but there are many things that could change as time goes on. 

Trying to push forward too quickly can leave your business in a precarious position – especially considering the range of challenges already facing organisations through Covid-19.

Considering having a European base for your company

You might find that it actually makes a lot of sense to have a European base of operations for your company’s move into Europe. For example, you might actually wish to set it up as a separate business that is headquartered in Europe.

This can make sense for a number of reasons relating to tax and ease of employing individuals in the EU. Many businesses from the UK are choosing to have the European side of their business operating out of Gibraltar. This is due to Gibraltar’s strong ties with both the UK and Europe, and the significant tax benefits

Know your audience

You may have a firm handle on who the audience is for your product in the UK market – but this doesn’t mean that it is identical in Europe. It is always best to go into any expansion with the idea that you’ll need to develop your knowledge of the new marketplace first. This means you may need to put a great deal of research into who your customers are likely to be.

Doing market research on your customer base allows you to better tailor your products and services to the European market, and also makes the job of marketing your company easier, as you will have a target audience in mind. 

Final thoughts

Yes, there will certainly be challenges attempting to grow a business over the company weeks and months. Brexit has created a great deal of uncertainty, and this rests on top of the unprecedented conditions of the Covid-19 pandemic. But there will, of course, still be opportunities in the market and it will be up to businesses to take them. 

If you want to grow your business in Europe it is patience and planning that will make it possible – don’t assume that it can’t be done, but be aware that it could be a rocky path to success. 

About the author: Portsmouth-based Annie Button English is a Literature graduate and writes for various online publications, specialising in business and career development.