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Brexit, ePrivacy or a new government: what will impact your online business the most in 2020?

07 December 2019

  • Challenges

It’s a cliché that’s used constantly at the moment, but we really are living in interesting times.

If you’re the owner of an online business in the UK, you’ll already have a lot on your mind; that’s part and parcel of running such an enterprise. But with Brexit, new privacy laws and (at the time of writing) a general election on the way… wow.

We bet your head hurts.

Today, let’s consider three hot topics in the UK and how they might impact your online business in 2020. When you break it down like this, it’s far easier to process - we promise.

The ‘B’ word

We couldn’t get through this blog without including Brexit - sorry.

It’s arguably one of the biggest political, economic and sociological events in living memory, and it hasn’t even begun yet.

The keyword for the last couple of years when it comes to describing the impact of Brexit on business, is ‘uncertainty’. There’s shed loads of it.

This is a good and a bad thing. It means you can crack on and not worry too much about the next few months, but it also makes planning further ahead rather difficult.

Let’s think of some of the potential impacts for online businesses once we leave the EU (if that happens, of course):

  • trade costs might increase: if we leave the EU, online businesses will still be subjected to EU controls, and that might result in higher export costs;
  • foreign talent might be lost: if you rely on EU nationals to run parts of your business, Brexit might see them head elsewhere; and
  • you might have more success selling abroad: yes, a positive! If sterling continues to fall (ok, not great), customers overseas might decide to take advantage of the weaker pound and buy from you.

Don’t make any big decisions just yet but be prepared to do so once the next government’s Brexit plans begin to materialise.

Another privacy regulation

But, didn’t we go through all of this with the GDPR?

Yes, we did, but there’s a final part of the puzzle that the EU is working on and it’s called the ePrivacy Regulation.

This will update the ePrivacy Directive, which has actually been around since 2002 and is designed to protect security and privacy of personal data in electronic communication.

Experts believe it won’t come into effect until 2021, but it will carry similar GDPR-like fines of up to 4% of global revenue. The new rules will refer to a large class of communications including VoIP, chat (i.e. WhatsApp) and web-based email services.

It all gets a bit complicated, but we recommend a read of this handy explanation to get a feel for how it might impact your business when it comes into effect. Thankfully, you have time to prepare!

Changes in the hottest hot seat

Whether we end up with a new prime minister after this year’s December general election or retain Boris Johnson (at the time of reading, you may even know the answer to this), that person is going to have an awful lot to contend with.

Just like Brexit, the decisions that will be made by the next government aren’t particularly clear, even if you read every party manifesto that has been released.

Regardless, we probably should expect changes to regulations, tax and trading as Britain manages its exit from the European Union.

It’s hard to envy the role of the prime minister at a time like this, and regardless of which party you support, few would disagree that 2020 is going to offer plenty of challenges for all businesses.

It’s therefore sensible that we end on this point. If you run an online business, don’t make any rash decisions or significant changes just yet. Wait for the new government to bed in and see how those promises evolve. You’re not alone; every online business next year will have to adapt to what will be a very different economic outlook - but the opportunities to grow will still be there!


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