With the fallout from the Brexit White Paper continuing to cause divisions in the government and throughout the country, it almost seems out of step to say that the mood of small businesses is one of positivity right now.
A recent report from the Bank of England showed that almost two-thirds of small business leaders do not consider Brexit to be one of their top three biggest concerns. Meanwhile, Britain’s economy has had a bounce, driven in part by both Royal Wedding celebratory spirit hitting the nation, along with the glow of glorious weather, which has boosted spirits and rung out the tills. We are yet to see the impact of England’s inspiring World Cup performance, but many are betting it has helped England bring spending home (in waistcoats alone!)
All of this not only gives Britain, and the small businesses who are at the heart of community celebrations, reasons to be cheerful – but reasons to dream!
The importance of injecting optimism and confidence into hearts and minds at this time of tension and uncertainty cannot be overstated.
While Brexit is clearly a concern for many businesses, small businesses are often overlooked in the debate, despite contributing 51% of private sector turnover – a record £1.9 trillion last year. So far, the sector has shown resilience in the face of adversity.
Similarly, international payments company OFX has found that almost half of small businesses’ appetite for trading overseas has not been affected by Brexit uncertainty, and a similar number have actively increased trade since the referendum.
That is not to say there are no concerns about what impact Brexit will have on the progress, prospects and livelihoods of SMEs. As Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) chairman Mike Cherry’s says, we need to see “tangible and comprehensive details on (White Paper) proposals”, so that SMEs can understand how they will be affected.
However, there is no scientific formula for business success – often it rests on a little human magic. Ideas bubble up when the chips are down and strength can rise up in people and communities when they collaborate and support each other.
For more than three weeks, during the World Cup, we came together as a nation to celebrate a group of talented, hard-working and diverse people.
If the near-success of Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions in the last month teaches us anything, it is how far we can go if we unite with positivity and hope. It demonstrates to a divided nation that backing England is not about closing ourselves off, but opening ourselves up, to opportunity, success and each other.
Small businesses are bravely leading the charge to a brighter future in Britain. We need to support them the way we supported our football team – getting out into the communities with an optimistic, positive celebratory message for British business.
This is not about burying our heads in the sand, but it is about moving away from a destructive and depressing rhetoric to a positive, solutions-driven conversation about the future of Britain.
Confidence can’t be bottled, but it is infectious – it is our job to instill support and optimism into the hearts of small businesses – let’s get to it!