Get your audio business Brexit Ready – plan plan plan!

EU trade expert Andrew Hood, a former government lawyer, shares some tips for how audio and radio businesses and staff can prepare for Brexit.

AudioUK has produced a series of podcasts to help prepare you and your audio business for Brexit, whenever it might happen. Listen as Georgie Frost gets tips and advice from people with experience of everything from intellectual property and HR to business contracts and working with staff and companies in different countries.

We’ll also be bringing you a number of features here on RadioToday to provide useful tips on what you could be doing now to prepare for the UK’s departure from the EU, whether there’s a deal or a no-deal scenario.

EU trade expert Andrew Hood is a former government lawyer and negotiator, and was also an adviser to David Cameron during his time as Prime Minister. He’s now a Partner at law firm Fieldfisher, specialising in UK and EU trade.

Andrew highlights that if a Withdrawal Agreement with the EU is in place at the time of the UK leaving the EU, most things won’t change until the end of 2020 – or possibly later. “By and large, you will have business as usual for most companies, and certainly for most companies in the audio industry.”

After leaving the EU with a deal, negotiations would then begin on the future relationship between the UK and the EU, and this would be an opportunity for sectors like ours to represent their views to government. “The audio industry as a whole could think about what you want that future free trade agreement to look like. How do you want to be able to provide your services into the EU if the UK is negotiating new free trade agreements around the world? What do you want those to look like in terms of giving you access to the markets to be able to sell your products, and to make sure that you’re competitive in those environments?”

While this week’s news makes a ‘no-deal’ exit now seem more unlikely, Andrew says the possibility of it happening should still raise some big questions for those running audio businesses or freelancing to consider. What will happen to the people you employ? What happens to the data you might transfer between the UK and EU? Are there others that you work with who are providing a particular technical service that may have to travel between the EU and the UK?

“It’s a question of looking not just at what happens to you and your business, but are your suppliers and your customers ready?” he suggests. “Have you thought about what the contracts say and whether you might be liable for things which just never occurred to you when you were writing the contract in the first place? From the very technical to the very sort of big-picture issues, I think people need to sit down, wrap a wet towel around their head, and start to think about what that might look like for them.”

Audio businesses and individuals also have a great opportunity to use Brexit to expand their horizons and find new markets in which to operate. “There are some companies I know who’ve suddenly had a great deal of opportunities in new markets they probably wouldn’t have tried or tested, had it not been for Brexit,” says Andrew Hood. “It’s making them think a little bit more practically about how they market themselves and the environments they operate in. Now I appreciate this is all anecdotal, and it’s examples of where we’ve worked with clients and customers or spoken to businesses in the last two and a half, three years. But there are some success stories out there. And it’s not all doom and gloom.”

How about if you are a EU national working here in the UK’s audio industry or you employ people who are? “Helping employees understand how to navigate this uncertainty of Brexit is crucial for most firms. If you’re in the UK, before 31st October, you will be able to stay. You will need to apply at some point for a settled status, or what’s called pre-settled status. It’s free and it can be done online. It’s simply about submitting your details to the Home Office. In the event of a no-deal it gets more complicated.”

For audio companies who have contracts with businesses elsewhere in the EU, if you can legally continue to provide those services then you should be OK – but it could depend the exact circumstances and the wording of the contract. Andrew’s advice? “You need to look at all those big contracts, really prioritise the ones most economically important to you, or most important in terms of your client base,” he tells us. “Get professional advice to understand what the potential implications may be for you, how you can manage some of those risks, and how – if need be – you can get yourself out of the contract if it suddenly becomes very uneconomical to perform and if that’s possible.”

Most importantly, if you’ve not even thought about how Brexit might affect your audio company or your freelance work then now is the time to start. “My first, second and third recommendations are: plan, plan, plan,” says Andrew Hood. “Understand what the potential impact may be on your business, and then really think through what the minimal steps are that you can take to get the maximum effect.”

“Although Brexit is complicated, really this is a deal or a no-deal scenario. And the no-deal scenario is one that you really need to plan – for because in a deal scenario, it should be business as usual at least until the end of December 2020. But plan now and you can be prepared.”

You can listen to more of Andrew’s advice on the Brexit Ready podcast – and use the government’s online checker to see what you or your business should be doing to prepare for Brexit.

This paid-for featured content was commissioned by AudioUK and funded by the government’s Business Readiness Fund.