NOTE: This piece was original published in Forbes. To see the original post please click here.
I am British. I also hold a directorship at six UK limited companies. And in August, I was about to become director of a seventh. But those plans are now on ice, thanks to Brexit referendum result.
It is now extremely unlikely that the new company, which offers an online service for data analysis, will be incorporated in the UK. It will now be incorporated in Singapore.
Like many British business owners, I am looking at my options. And I’m not going to wait around too long to see how it pans out before I make my move. So I’m protecting what I’ve already built and looking for opportunities elsewhere.
I’m not going to close down all my UK operations just yet: I think that would be throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I’m waiting to see what the future has in store for the UK once it’s out on its own. But like many business owners, I’m looking to minimize the risks.
The biggest problem for business owners like me, is the uncertainty. We don’t know how this will play out.
Two fifths (40%) of my business is in Europe. Before the vote, when people asked me what I would do in the event of a Brexit, I would flippantly say “it will never happen, we are just not that stupid.” If pushed for an answer, I would say “I will move all of my business out of the UK.”
Now that the unthinkable has actually happened, what am I going to do?
I’m proactive. And anyone who has started their own business has to and must be proactive. We have to adapt to changing conditions and make decisions on the information that we have at hand. The problem is I have only one bit of information and that is that 40% of my business is in Europe. No one can answer any of my other questions.
Of my 25 members of staff, 5 of which are non-British passport holders from the EU. Am I still going to be able to employ them? Again, no one can answer this.
What about trade with the EU? On what terms will I be able to sell my products there? Will I have to pay export/import duties? What about the cost of getting things through customs? Again, this big “Leave” campaign had all the bravado and now seems to have no one running the show. No one with any answers.
Then there’s the question of how long it will take to leave? From what I have read, it could be up to a few years. But again, no one seems to have an exact answer.
So I have made the decision to move my businesses abroad. Like thousands of other British business owners, I’m looking at my options. I’m still looking at the data and crunching numbers. But options include either moving to Germany or the USA. And I’ve already submitted the paperwork to register the companies and have got my accountant looking at the best structures available.
Like many of my peers, I was and still am still dead against the UK leaving Europe. For the first time in my life I am ashamed of the country that I was born in.
Not only is Britain exiting the EU, it is also exiting the building - and the entire world. We have stepped down and we are drifting off. And I for one am not going with it. I want to be part of the EU - and the rest of the world. And frankly, that’s the place where most British business owners want to be too.