A survey of nearly 2000 small business leaders by rebootonline.com has found that just over a third would change their vote on Brexit, given the chance.
Chaos and uncertainty
53% of respondents said they had voted Remain and 47%, Leave. Of those leavers, 34% said they would now change their vote to Remain.
So why the turnaround?
69% of leavers said the Brexit process has been “much harder and more chaotic than anticipated,” while 31% said the process had been just how they thought it would be. Unsurprisingly, no respondents opted for the “much smoother than I originally anticipated” reply.
Naomi Aharony, managing director of Reboot Online, said she wasn’t surprised that so many SMEs would now revoke their Leave vote if they could.
“I don’t think this is due to some sort of change of heart but rather a willingness to avoid the chaos that has been created by the Brexit process and negotiations,” she said.
“The way Brexit has been handled up to now has caused huge uncertainty, which in turn has slowed down business growth and investment.
“I don’t believe the government is fully aware of the imminent existential threat to so many SMEs caused by the ongoing negotiations.”
The post-Brexit outlook for SMEs
When, how and even if the UK will leave the EU still remain major unknowns, even though there are only a few weeks to go until the supposed EU leaving date of 29th March. But research by the University of St Andrews last year suggested that SMEs would be the sector to suffer most as a result of the UK’s exit from the EU.
Ross Brown, who the led the research, said the research showed that Brexit-related concerns could result in a range of negative consequences for UK SMEs, particularly reduced capital investment, which would weaken SMEs’ ability to grow and prosper.
“Most worryingly, these perceived negative impacts appear to be foremost in the minds of entrepreneurs and managers located in the types of innovative and export-oriented companies, which are often viewed as the high growth ‘superstars’ of tomorrow.
“In other words, SMEs thought to be the most significant for boosting productivity and economic growth may be the most negatively affected by Brexit.”
The research also found that Brexit-related uncertainty was more likely to affect larger, export-oriented firms and those operating in hi-tech and service-related industries. That prediction is something the UK is seeing come true, with a number of larger firms already taking their business, premises and jobs elsewhere—all factors that have a knock-on effect on smaller businesses. Only time will tell what lasting damage this chaotic period has done to the economy and if it will recover, regardless of whether Brexit happens or not.
If you’re worried about the effect of Brexit on your business, offset that worry by being proactive, ensuring you prepare as much as possible. Check out the Federation of Small Business guide, ‘How to Prepare your Small Business for Brexit’.