Well, it’s happened. Despite a campaign of emails, newsletters, social media, and site notices letting our EU customers know they could continue to buy from us without hassle through 2020, their orders have all but stopped. As of this morning, I’ve received about 1/5 of the orders I’d usually get from the EU by the middle of the month. The drop in revenue is terrifying.
The contingency plans I made back in 2018 have been put into play – now, through no fault of my own, I have to fight tooth and nail to save what I can of the business I’ve spent more fifteen years building up.
What’s particularly galling is thinking about the millions the UK government threw at its pointless Get Ready For Brexit campaign. How much, I wonder, did they bother to invest in making sure members of the largest trading bloc in the world knew trade would remain the same after January 31st? How many other UK businesses are now viewed as unreliable or unviable thanks to the actions of their own government?
At the moment, I lease two properties, but I’m letting the bigger one go. Squeezing everything into the smaller unit will be tough, but my hope is that doing so will save enough money to protect a job or two.
I cancelled every expense I could this morning – computer maintenance, my organic certification, our employee perk plan. The hardest was cancelling the donations to the charities we’ve supported for well over ten years. As awful as this was, I know it’ll pale in comparison to letting members of staff go – which is almost inevitable given the increasingly chaotic direction of the government’s Brexit ‘planning’. Our staff – like hundreds of thousands of similarly affected people across the UK – have done nothing wrong, but they’ll be made to suffer this completely pointless downturn.
The UK market was never big for us. Seventy percent of our sales are (were?) to the EU, and with the UK government’s bungling of Brexit, I can’t see much of a future for my company with our biggest market gone – and I know I’m not alone. There will be lots of small businesses feeling the strain of stockpiling, multiple extensions, the threats of no deal, and now leaving the EU and entering into the transition period still with no idea what lies at the end.
I’ll be ok. I took steps to protect myself and my family in case it all went wrong. The house is paid, the holiday flat is sold, the expenses are cut back to the bone. Next month I’ll trade in our car for a cheaper model. I’m good at frugality and economising. We won’t starve. But I will never, ever forgive the people who voted for this to happen to me, and who cheered it on as it became more chaotic and damaging. I hope they get everything they deserve.