Business Planning

Comparing the EU to FIFA and going down with the Titanic small business remains divided over Brexit

Fred Heritage | 14 June 2016 | 8 years ago

On 23 June,  the UK will decide on its future relationship with the EU
On 23 June, the UK will decide on its future relationship with the EU
The small business community has confirmed it remains divided on whether Britain would be better off choosing to leave or remain in the EU, just one week ahead of the important referendum on Brexit.

The result of a show of hands amongst small business leaders at Small Business School Business Advice’s inaugural event held in the heart of Westminster on 14 June asking whether small businesses would be better off in or out of the EU after 23 June, was too close to call.

Business Advice took the measure of delegates? sentiments ahead of the referendum following an exciting and thought-provoking Brexit debate between a panel of small business decision makers that started the day at School Business School.

Overall uncertainty and the potential volatility caused by Brexit were important themes of the arguments made in favour of remaining in the EU, whilst red tape and the pressures of bureaucracy for small businesses were highlighted as possible reasons why Britain should chose to leave the single market.

One of the panellists, business consultant at Clarus Consulting, Zak Meziane, kicked off the debate by outlining that, above all, a lack of thorough knowledge and a perceived misunderstanding of how a Brexit would actually impact business prospects was holding most small business owners back from coming to a conclusion on which way to vote.

He revealed that 43 per cent of the UK’s small business owners felt they didnt have enough information to form a rational argument, whilst 44 per cent assumed that, because their business didnt have any European customers or suppliers, a Brexit would not impact them.

Fellow panellist SwatI Dhingra of the London School of Economics explained why this isnt the case. She said: The economic downturn were expecting a Brexit would cause would cost every business large and small.

whilst big companies might be most concerned initially about having to renegotiate trade deals with our European neighbours, in the years of uncertainty that would unfold, and as access to finance begins to dry up, it’s small businesses that stand to suffer the most, as investors view them as more risky.

Dhingra was pessimistic about the UK being able to cut as good a deal with the EU as it does now in the event of a Brexit, and pointed out that small business owners were part of a much larger value chain the future of which would hang in the balance if Britain decided to leave.

Putting the argument for leaving the EU in context, small business owner Lance Forman, of H.Forman & Son, told Small Business School delegates that while the majority of people enjoyed football, most saw the sport’s governing body Fifa as a corrupt, overly-bureaucratic and damaging organisation similar to the EU.

whilst our political leaders say it’s important that Britain has a seat at the table in order to change things, that table is on the Titanic, Forman said.

the EU is a sinking ship, he went on to say. The bureaucracy is costly and annoying and the single currency is unworkable and creates a dependency culture amongst poorer members. Britain is a big country and we should have the confidence to stand alone the EU will be diminished without us, not the other way around.

Despite differing opinions and perspectives, the panellists agreed that the small business community is largely being left out of the Brexit debate, which has remained principally in the realm of larger corporate firms and politicians.

Demonstrating that extent to which worries over Brexit have failed to create a trickle down effect on the actions of small business owners themselves, Meziane revealed that zero per cent of owners recently surveyed had taken any action to prepare for a vote to leave the EU.

Whether or not Britain decides to leave the EU on 23 June, Business Advice’s debate at Small Business School confirmed the topic continues to be a complex and highly charged subject for the country’s small business community.

If you’re interested in finding more about Small Business School then visit our events website.

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