Business ideas for 2017: Brexit consultant
With the process to begin Britain’s exit from the EU slated for March, businesses will need plenty of advice on regulatory and legislative changes
Despite voting to leave the European Union (EU) in June last year, the UK’s withdrawal from the 28 member bloc has yet to happen – generating a considerable amount of uncertainty in the business world.
For the time being, UK businesses are still acting under EU laws but Britain's exit from the EU (Brexit) is likely to introduce some major legislative changes that businesses will have no choice but to adapt to.
Luckily, this uncertainty offers a potentially huge opportunity for a savvy consultant or human resources professional to become a Brexit consultant.
With changes to tax, import and export tariffs, and employment law likely, businesses are going to need to undertake a significant overhaul of their internal structures, systems and strategies – which is where advice and guidance from a Brexit consultant will come in useful.
Read on to find out why 2017 is the year to become a Brexit consultant…
Starting a Brexit consultancy: Why it’s a good business idea
With around 5.5 million small and medium-sized enterprises in the UK, there's a huge market to exploit. And, with the government intending to invoke Article 50 by the end of March 2017 – beginning the formal process of leaving the EU – time is running our for businesses to get clued up on Brexit.
While Brexit is topical, this isn’t just a business opportunity for the next few months as the ramifications of leaving the EU are likely to stretch out over several years, if not decades.
The government has remained relatively tight-lipped on what businesses can expect – Soft Brexit? Hard Brexit? Red White and Blue Brexit? – so it’s been difficult to put appropriate measures in place.
Meanwhile, ‘experts’ have complicated the situation further by offering contradictory opinions on the various pros and cons.
All businesses can do is respond to the situation as it unfolds and a Brexit consultant will help to unpick the tangle of incoming legislation and bureaucracy to protect against revenue loss or even legal issues.
Following Theresa May's confirmation that the UK will indeed leave the single market, the UK's future trading relationship with the EU will be even more complicated. Where previously businesses could be certain of free movement of goods and services and low costs, not they will need the help of a consultant to help them navigate the new legislative landscape.
Brexit consultant business opportunities
As a Brexit consultant, your role will not just be to help businesses protect themselves against, and be prepared for, legislative changes but to help business take full advantage of new opportunities to boost business growth.
KPMG has already appointed its own internal head of Brexit to weigh up the various risks and potential competitive advantages, and smaller firms are following suit.
London-headquartered firms Hogan Lovells and CIPD have launched their own ‘Brexit Hubs' to help companies make the best of Britain post-referendum.
There's still plenty of room for smaller players to come into the space. Amelia Bishop, serial entrepreneur and founder of small and medium-sized business consultancy Weenie Business Solutions, is using her years of experience in managing projects and reviewing operations for companies to launch a ‘Brexit Hub'.
Obviously, not just anyone can become a Brexit consultant – clients will want to see that you’ve got a proven track record in consultancy and knowledge of employment law, finances and so on. An individual with experience in human resources, consulting or strategy will be well suited to this role.
With president-elect Donald Trump having promised a quick trade deal for the UK in light of Brexit, the US could become more important as a trading partner for UK businesses. Therefore, knowledge of the US market or connections with businesses in the country could be very valuable to businesses looking to explore new trading opportunities – links to China or other non-EU trading partners could also be a great asset.
Likewise, knowledge or expertise in imports and exports will help you target your approach and secure more work. As it looks increasingly likely that the UK will leave the single market, how are supply chains going to be affected and are businesses suddenly going to find higher tariffs on an essential component or material?
If this is the case, you could provide advice on where businesses can find a better deal and avoid premiums.
On Brexit as a business opportunity for 2017, Amelia Bishop said: “Expect to see more and more news stories about Brexit in the coming months.
“It’s set to be the most talked-about topic and evolve daily as our government prepares to trigger Article 50 and serve official notice that the UK is quitting the EU. And it’ll remain high on the news agenda in the months and years that follow, too.
“Government negotiators will have numerous trade deals to agree and, potentially, hundreds of policies to revise and rewrite. Their decisions will affect all areas of economic life as we know it and, depending on who you believe, take anything from five to 10 years to enact – possibly more.
“In fact, Brexit has created an amazing mini industry in its own right. So, if you’re a freelance consultant in a specific area or have broad industry knowledge, specialising in Brexit could be a fantastic opportunity for you.
“Of course, you’ll need to understand the implications of Brexit. However, specialists in this unprecedented event will become highly sought-after in the coming months and years across all industry sectors, including the global currency markets, importing and exporting.”