Brexit is impending. Don’t let that stop you from starting a business

Have you put your business plans on hold because of economic uncertainty? Diane Charlton of Once Upon a Time wants you to think again...

Last year’s EU referendum result caused a seismic wave that swept across every part of British life. Some people were shocked, others were elated and most were simply worried about what the future will look like for Britain outside Europe come May 2019.

Entrepreneurs, however, didn’t seemed fazed. On the contrary, they appeared galvanised.

According to a survey published by Silicon Valley Bank, one in every five UK start-ups intends to open a European office due to Brexit.

Startup Britain, the government-backed organisation which compiled a report showing that more than 600 London start-ups launched per day in the first six months of 2016, believes that “Brexit spirit” will only encourage more entrepreneurs to do the same.

For entrepreneurs, like myself, who have already launched a successful start-up, the idea of setting up a new business can still be daunting as it presents familiar and new challenges.

Drawing from my experience with Once Upon a Time, I’ve examined some of the business lessons I’ve learnt and hope to provide guidance for anyone launching a new business in soon-to-be Brexit Britain: 

Maximise tax breaks

One reason why many entrepreneurs still see the UK as an attractive place to do business, despite Brexit, is because we have the lowest corporation tax of any major economy.

Additionally, there is now the Seed Investment Scheme (SEIS) which allows investors, including directors, to receive initial tax relief of 50% on investments up to £100,000 and full Capital Gains Tax (CGT) exemption for any gains on the SEIS shares.

This tax-free shares exemption is a godsend for attracting investors and key people to your fledgling venture.

Invest in the right office

When launching second-time round we were lucky enough to inherit a wonderful space in Soho through acquisition. However, not every entrepreneur will have this opportunity and finding a premise for conducting a business is intimidating.

To truly live your brand, you need a premise of your own. Shared work spaces often fall short in this respect so, in my opinion you need your own environment.

Having some capital upfront is useful, as landlords often want a year’s rent as a deposit to compensate for your lack of trading history. View Startups’ finding premises guides here

Build goodwill by networking

Invest in networking to build strong support and goodwill for your business – this can reap benefits later on.

Most people love the underdog with an entrepreneurial spirit, and will often give leeway in the form of deferred payments, providing free advice and practical help which would otherwise be expensive. More advice on networking can be found here.

Keep the faith

Many people will give you reasons why you shouldn’t start a business. Of course, mistakes will be made – and that applies even if you have launched a successful start-up previously.

Entrepreneurs put a lot on the line – livelihoods, careers and stability – to launch a new brand, so it is important to build a tribe who will be behind you every step of the way. Use social media, one of the most effective and free marketing tools, to help gain a fan following.

In conclusion

The outcome of the EU referendum has brought a lot of uncertainty to the UK and, despite the defiance of UK entrepreneurs, critics will tell you that now is not the best time to launch a business.

As is the case with any new business, there are bound to be issues along the way but what matters is how you respond to these issues  and how you, as an entrepreneur, can constantly rally your team to stick with you through the good, the bad and the Brexit.

Diane Charlton is COO and founder of shopper marketing agency Once Upon A Time.

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