Brexit: Small Business Owners React
With 51.9% of the vote, Britons have voted to leave the European Union. Here, small business owners give their views on a landmark day
In a move that has sent shockwaves across the nation and the wider world, the UK has voted to leave the European Union after 51.9% of voters opted to ‘Vote Leave’ compared to 48.1% who chose ‘Remain’.
With the final polls indicating a small Remain victory, many small business owners were no doubt shocked upon hearing the result this morning and have contemplated what exactly the future will hold for them.
Here, is4profit has compiled the views of some prominent figures in the space and what they think of Britain’s future outside the EU.
The uncertainty will only continue
Alex Littner, managing director of Boost Capital:
“In the lead-up to the referendum, Boost Capital saw a rush of small businesses applying for bridging finance, anxious about what the vote might mean for their businesses in the short-term, and, vitally, their cashflow. Unfortunately, that uncertainty looks set to continue, as we wait for markets to react to the Brexit news, and the economy experiences the after-shocks of this dramatic change of course.”
Other countries won’t want to trade with the UK
Mark Mitchell, CEO of Meridian Business Support:
“The result is shocking and it’s a sad day for the UK. We now face a level of political instability and an uncertainty over who is going to be the next prime minister. As a country we will become less relevant. In the years to come, I expect we will experience a significant lack of investment in major industries as other countries won’t want to trade with the UK. Brexit means we are isolating ourselves and we may not seem favourable to other countries.
“The result makes us appear to be less friendly and tolerant and has turned many of our workforce into official immigrants rather than colleagues – this will have a detrimental effect on staffing.
”The economic impact will be damaging as we have cut ourselves off from a valuable source of skilled labour and we may have cut ourselves off from the single market. It’s going to take a lot of time, money and effort in order to get new trade agreements up and off the ground. “But we have to respect the vote, and get on with it”
A small term recession will emerge
Stephen Archer, director of Spring Partnerships:
“For small business the only concern should be around exchange rates and perhaps a short term recession. A recession, if there is one, will not appear until later this year. Business will carry on as usual; ignore the irrational sentiment of the London markets. Small businesses dominate the UK economy and will sustain the economy, as they will across Europe.
Businesses bills could increase
Phil Foster, MD of Love Energy Savings:
“One of the biggest expenditures for small businesses will be their energy, and the UK public have been warned recently that leaving the EU could have negative consequences on our bills.”
There could be a boost for tourism
John Brennan, CEO of Amaris Hospitality:
“The negotiation period could have an effect on the markets overall in the short-term, the hospitality sector is well-placed to remain robust during this period.
“International tourism is one of the most rapidly growing sectors of the UK economy as disposable incomes increase around the world. With sterling weakening on this news, the rest of the world will get more pounds for their currency, making the UK a cheaper destination to visit, and conversely making it expensive for Britons going abroad.
“We would, however, encourage government to provide clarity on the exit process and address the areas of uncertainty prompted by this decision as soon as possible.”
Small businesses who sell worldwide will suffer
Ed Molyneux, co-founder and CEO of FreeAgent:
“It was clear during the run up to the referendum that the overwhelming majority of micro-business owners and freelancers were in favour of the UK remaining in the EU, and that they did not think a ‘Brexit’ would be beneficial for their own businesses or the economy in general.
“The ramifications of leaving the EU are going to be huge – especially for small businesses who sell products and services worldwide, rather than just domestically. And we now look set for a lengthy period of uncertainty while negotiations presumably take place over the terms of the UK’s exit.”
Smaller businesses could struggle to cope with change
Dafydd Llewellyn, managing director of Concur:
“Today’s decision to leave the EU was a democratic one, but it will bring with it a period of transition, and at times, uncertainty for British small enterprises. This is because unlike larger enterprises, they don’t have the internal resources to dedicate time in unravelling what the result means from a process point of view.
“It will take some time for small businesses to get up to speed and, given that they make up the majority of the UK’s companies, this will have some knock-on effects for the wider economy.”
There are positives for digital companies
Daniel Reilly, co-founder at Ruler Analytics:
“We are disappointed in the vote to leave the EU. However, the digital marketing sector is one of the most resilient and growing sectors of recent times. Whilst there are a number of negatives to leaving the EU there are also many positives for an industry that has no borders.
“We certainly don’t think this change will affect the ability to recruit skilled labour from abroad, nor do we believe this will cause a shortage of jobs within a constantly developing and evolving market place. We are a serviced-based financial economy, which is driven by a great infrastructure of both education and training, and this has allowed us to be at the forefront of digital, and will continue to do so for many years to come.”
The talent pool could suffer
Sinead Hasson, managing director at Hasson Associates:
“We recruit for the market research & insight industry, it’s an industry reliant on the knowledge and experience of people not just here in the UK, but across the whole of Europe. Our clients are international and our candidates come from all corners of Europe, those candidates make a valuable contribution to the research industry and I can’t imagine a research agency without representation from those countries.”
The tech space should remain strong
Matt Hunt, CEO of Apadmi Enterprise
“The UK and EU are markets that have continued to offer tech businesses huge growth potential and the international business community has been overwhelmingly supportive of our industry.
“Technology does not observe boundaries and we have been lucky to enjoy an inspiring array of tech from the UK, Europe and even further afield, which we have been able to access and use for the benefit of our customers. The UK tech industry has been in a strong position and the only limitations we’ve faced to do business has been our own ability.”
Do you have a strong opinion on the referendum results? Voice it on our sister site Startups.co.uk’s forum.