Wherever you turn this week, it’s going to be pretty impossible to avoid Brexit.
The topic is dominating the Labour Party conference in Liverpool where the opposition party faces key decisions about whether or not to pursue a second referendum.
Meanwhile Theresa May is heading to New York for talks with Donald Trump about a bilateral trade deal with the US.
All of this is set against a background of further government papers being published on what might happen if no deal is reached with fears including flights between the UK and EU ceasing, UK hauliers being banned from the continent and pet owners needing a health certificate should they want to take their beloved dog, cat or ferret (!) on holiday with them.
If you can cut through the Brexit fog and media madness, the real message for business is that now is the time to start making preparations.
Even if we don’t know exactly what new arrangements will be in place post-29 March 2019, it is still important to plan for all eventualities and take steps to review how your business may be impacted.
High street clothing retailer Next has today reported that it is ‘well advanced’ in its preparations should a free-trade agreement not be reached, citing delays at ports and a fall in the value of the pound as the main threats.
While acknowledging the potential challenges, the retailer appears to have gone to great lengths to ensure its business operations can continue.
This kind of scenario planning is an absolute must for all businesses, regardless of size.
As a minimum our advice would be to start reviewing your ‘EU touchpoints’, whether that is your workforce, suppliers or customers. If these relationships were made more difficult, costly or broke down completely, what would it mean for your business? What can you do to minimise the impact?
Then you need to start digging a bit deeper. Review your commercial contracts, in light of the various possible Brexit outcomes, review international supply agreements that might attract import and export costs, make sure your supply chains have also made preparations, and consider how you can support EU employees to continue working for your company, while also planning what you would do if they did decided to leave.
The key is definitely to be prepared and not to bury your head in the sand and hope for the best.