Brexit is the single biggest worry for small businesses today, new research has found[1]. Now just months away, more than half of owner-managed businesses fret over how Brexit negotiations will affect them, far more than fears of cyber-attacks (29 percent) and increased regulation like the GDPR (28 percent), for example.

When it comes to Brexit’s impact on business in the UK, much of the focus has been on large corporations such as foreign-owned manufacturing plants. Small businesses, however, are the backbone of Britain, accounting for 99 percent of the private sector. These businesses require certainty in order to invest sensibly, sustain growth and expand horizons. So how can SMEs navigate Brexit’s increasingly murky waters?

Tech for Change

Small businesses are turning to technology in order to improve their business agility. A study of SME leaders has found 51 percent are specifically introducing new technology in order to be more responsive to trends and opportunities. Automation (72 percent) and document management (62 percent) are top priorities. Overall, 70 percent of SME leaders consider technology to be at the heart of their organisation’s capacity to thrive[2].

Legacy systems that drain small businesses of time and money should not be a necessary evil. By modernising your Systems of Agreement, you can reap huge rewards, and a lean, agile business will fare much better as Brexit’s impact becomes felt.

Tech for Compliance

Small businesses that see Brexit as an opportunity to drag their heels on GDPR compliance would do well to catch up now. The UK government has already proposed data protection laws that would transfer the GDPR into UK law after it leaves the EU, with very few differences in the way organisations are required to handle personal data.

Technology is a sure way to get ahead when it comes to GDPR compliance. From bulk-sending consent forms to customers and questionnaires to third-party suppliers, to automating how personal data is stored and for how long, a dedicated GDPR solution avoids leaving compliance to chance.

Sun, Sea and… Sales

Interestingly, as Brexit looms, Britain’s small businesses are turning to Europe for increased revenue potential. Almost two-thirds (62 percent) of small business owners are confident about doing business outside the UK, with about half (46 percent) saying the uncertainty of foreign trade deals and customs arrangements has had no effect on their exporting ambitions[3].

Those expanding their businesses abroad would do well to implement e-signatures, speeding up signing times as owners navigate time zones and language barriers. Documents have been DocuSigned in more than 180 countries and in 43 localised languages, automating workflows and collecting payments and signatures in one step, no matter the currency.

Research shows that the more innovative, more export-oriented and tech-savvy the SME is, the more likely it is to have concerns regarding Brexit[4]. About a quarter of small businesses that are considered to be “innovators” view Brexit as an obstacle to their business. Having robust systems and digitised processes in place, however, should help to weather the various storms today’s small businesses face as well as to embrace the opportunities great change can bring.

To learn more about how DocuSign helps SMEs, watch our on-demand webinar.

[1] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/brexit-sme-small-businesses-government-ignoring-concerns-leaving-eu-a8225836.html

[2] http://smallbusiness.co.uk/agility-essential-smb-survival-brexit-2542794/

[3] http://smallbusiness.co.uk/international-trade-export-europe-brexit-2544463/

[4] http://theconversation.com/brexits-impact-on-small-businesses-the-experts-may-be-spot-on-after-all-90561