Perception is everything: ten simple steps for businesses preparing for a post-Brexit landscape

The recent reports from Experian and the CBI may not cheer those active in the ever hungry M&A market.  The former puts a brave face on the 6.1% decline in volume from last year, describing it as a “fairly strong return given the current uncertain economic and political climate”: the findings of the latter are that 80% of businesses point to Brexit having a negative effect on investment decisions.

For many good reasons, mergers and acquisitions will always form part of the strategic landscape for aspiring companies. Long term forward planning may identify a need.  By contrast, circumstances can deliver an immediate opportunity that is too good to miss.

As the CBI further reports, over 40% of businesses do not have contingency plans for Brexit.  Perhaps this is evidence that planning ahead at the macro level is being put in the “too difficult” box.

At the micro level, there are some practical steps that businesses can be taking immediately so that they are better placed for when uncertainty is reduced.  Here are ten areas where owner-managed businesses can find easy wins:

  1. Keep funders close to you. You may not know when you next need funding.  Whether Brexit related, acquisition related or investor related, those with financial interests in the business love to be kept abreast of the performance and plans.
  2. Consider whether any adjustments to the structure of the business are required so as to take advantage of any tax breaks. For example, in his last Budget, the Chancellor announced that the qualifying period during which conditions need to be met for entrepreneurs relief will increase to two years from 6th April 2019.
  3. For companies, check the company books are up to date…and locate the share certificates.
  4. Make sure that the constitutional documents (being the articles of association, shareholders agreement or partnership agreement) remain fit for the plans you want to put in place.
  5. Make sure that there are signed and dated, written contracts of employment for all employees and that the policies are up to date.
  6. Is the website up to date with privacy, user and other policies …and are they correct?
  7. Is the website registration in the correct name?
  8. Is data being properly managed and is the business registered with the Information Commissioner?
  9. Where property is involved, is the planning history complete and have consents been obtained?
  10. What are the key contracts of the business? Are they sufficiently robust and interesting to a buyer?  Include any leases in this exercise.

Elon Musk has said, “Brand is just a perception, and perception will match reality over time. Sometimes it will be ahead, other times it will be behind. But brand is simply a collective impression some have about a product.”  The last thing a business needs during a sales process is an extension of time for when a “problem” breaks perception.

Now may be the time to make sure your business is ready for the opportunities of 2019 and beyond.  Find out how you can prepare your business for investment (with funding to cover legal costs) by contacting