Business development · 23 June 2017

Small business divided on impact of Brexit one year on from referendum

Brexit
Small business owners were twice as likely to switch from Remain to Leave than vice versa

It’s been 12 months since the EU referendum in June 2016, but with Britain starting to look like a very different place, what do small business owners think about the impact of Brexit so far?

In a new survey, the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) asked founders of small companies how they voted, whether their business had felt a positive or negative impact of Brexit and what the future held.

As a starting point, business owners were equally divided between Leavers and Remainers – both representing 47 per cent of all respondents.

In terms of the impact of Brexit on profits and business growth so far, experiences edged in favour of positive. Some 22 per cent said they had felt a positive reaction since the referendum, compared to 18 per cent who observed a more negative impact.

Looking forwards, entrepreneurs were more likely to have an optimistic attitude towards Britain’s future outside of the EU. Some four in ten business owners believed Brexit would ultimately be a success, while 36 per cent believed the economy was likely to suffer for it.

Reflecting on the current impact of Brexit, many founders considered the falling value of the pound as something to celebrate, with exporting opportunities greater than 12 months ago.

For those banking for a re-run of the referendum, owners were more likely to switch from Remain to Leave. Just three per cent of Leave voters would now vote to stay in the EU, compared to seven per cent of Remain voters who have accepted the outcome and would vote to Leave.

Adam Harper, director of strategy and professional standards at AAT, said: “Brexit clearly remains a divisive issue throughout the UK, with small business owners sharing with us how they view the upcoming EU withdrawal as both an opportunity and a concern, in almost equal measure. 

A political vacuum was also identified in the study, as small business owners felt underrepresented by the current crop of party leaders.

At 28 per cent, more people believed no leading politician would act in their interests than the quarter who believed Theresa May was most likely to support small business.

“With talks over our exit strategy now underway, we can only hope that Britain’s future business successes with our partners inside and outside of the European Union are at the forefront of our political leaders’ minds.

“Issues including our businesses’ ability to trade, the potential impact of new regulations and policies, and supply of skilled workers will all need to be strongly considered, while small businesses will need regular advice and support as to what Brexit will actually mean for their company.”

The post-Brexit trade deals small business owners most want to see

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.

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