With further delays, the majority of UK SMEs are still completely in the dark over what to expect, or how to better prepare for life after Brexit, according to new research released today.
According to a survey of 1,200 SME owners across the UK, commissioned by small business insurance specialist Simply Business, three quarters (76%) of self-employed people admit to feeling unsupported ahead of Brexit as they ahead to an uncertain future.
There were 5.7m SMEs in the UK in 2018, which is 99% of all British businesses according to Parliament UK’s Business Statistics Report. The majority of our nation’s small business owners have been left in the wilderness, as only 1 in 5 (20%) admit they know where to look for advice on how to safeguard their business’ future.
Many have taken an air of caution before looking too far into the future. A third (35%) of business owners have decided to delay growth plans and further investment in their business, citing the lack of certainty as making it difficult to plan too far ahead.
Worryingly, 8% stated that they’re having to make redundancies to cut costs, double that of the 4% that are looking to hire new staff.
The uncertainty around Brexit has already caused immeasurable damage to some SMEs, with a third (31%) claiming to have felt a negative impact even before we have officially left the European Union. For those that have gone beyond balancing the books, an alarming fifth (19%) of SMEs are on the brink of shutting down their business due to the lack of support and guidance around Brexit. A staggering 2 in 5 (40%) of those that are yet to feel the impact of Brexit have admitted they are expecting to feel the impact before the end of this year.
Bea Montoya, COO at Simply Business said, “There isn’t a blueprint for what happens after Brexit, which is particularly challenging for the UK’s 5.7m hardworking SMEs.
“The self-employed are the backbone of the British economy, and they deserve more support and guidance after all, it’s they who employ the majority of the UK workforce. A workforce which, according to our survey, is potentially at risk. Surely the government can clarify guidelines for what steps SMEs should take with Brexit potentially only weeks away?”
Although the minority, one in 12 (8%) small business owners are predicting that post–Brexit, they’ll see a positive impact on their business. Indeed, one in seven (14%) SMEs say they’re already seeing an increase in sales and orders during Britain’s exit from the EU. It is claimed that Brexit is set to open lots of new opportunities for businesses in Britain, however, just a fifth (20%) of small business owners are currently looking to explore different markets.