Brexit is an opportunity rather than a hindrance, finds SMEs

Leaders and decision makers at the UK’s SMEs are confident Brexit will cause no significant disruption to their businesses, research finds.

The referendum result may have sent Sterling plummeting to a 30-year low, but almost half (47 per cent) of small business leaders anticipate no disruptive impact at all from Brexit. Only 14 per cent are concerned that the UK leaving the EU will significantly affect them, according to a study by CitySprint.

The company’s survey has found that, on average, most in the survey would like a six-month breather before the exit negotiations begin. But a fifth of the UK’s SMEs want to get the exit process started now, asking for Article 50 to be triggered immediately, in contrast with prime minister Theresa May’s assurance that Brexit talks will not begin until 2017.

When asked about their attitude towards the future, 68 per cent state they feel either as confident or more confident about their business than they did 12 months ago. This is a 16 per cent drop since CitySprint put the same question to them in October 2015, but still means more than two thirds of SME leaders have not had their confidence knocked by the economic slowdown reported following the referendum result.

Patrick Gallagher, chief executive of CitySprint says, ‘It’s fantastic to see that the UK’s SMEs remain upbeat and ready to tackle whatever lies ahead. We know that they are resilient, having weathered the economic ups and downs over recent years, but business leaders must not become blasé about the future.

‘As a business leader myself, I have been working closely with my leadership team to prepare for every likely eventuality.’

Dependent on the trade negotiations with Europe and whether Article 50 is triggered, Patrick Tonks, creative director of Great Bean Bags, is optimistic about Brexit, especially the positive implications it could have for the manufacturing industry.
‘As it stands, it’s looking like the future of British manufacturing will increasingly be geared towards exporting, leading to more opportunities for smaller manufacturing businesses like ourselves,’ Tonks says. ‘Also, with Sterling currently being so low, domestically-manufactured products will now become much more attractive to overseas buyers, especially with their own costs mounting.’
He adds there could be all sorts of new opportunities presented by the trade negotiations. ‘Look at Canada, for example; the way they structured their trade deal with the EU could be a model for the UK economy.’
Far from shying away from European matters, Hamish White, CEO of Mobilise Consulting, has decided to open an office in Spain. ‘It will be about four years before we know the exact implications [of Brexit], and that’s simply too long to wait for certainty,’ he says.
The market is very similar to the UK with over 40 mobile virtual network operators, he adds. ‘We can transfer what we have learnt from the UK and help Spanish telcos achieve the same results. But more than that, opening an office in Spain will help us protect some of the skill we value so highly and still tap into from the UK.’

The company also be working very closely with its UK customers on how they navigate the change and take advantage of the situation and the length of time available to plan new business models and properly research ideas that could differentiate their brands, rather than let Brexit happen to them. ‘I’m feeling very positive about this and think it’s a strategy other businesses could do well to look at,’ he adds.

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