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They drive growth, open new markets and create jobs. They represent the seedbeds that spearhead innovation and bring new ideas to the forefront, and their entrepreneurial flair and talents are widely regarded as being what’s needed to ensure that the UK makes a success of Brexit.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and the British Chambers of Commerce met with the new Prime Minister, Theresa May, in early August at a meeting designed to explore what SMEs need post-Brexit.
The FSB clearly stated what its members view as the main issues that need to be tackled, and what they would like to see in a post-Brexit economy, the four key areas are:
The Prime Minister was able to give assurances that cuts to EU funding will be replaced, and that small businesses would be at the heart of the government’s renegotiation strategy.
Mrs May was quick to reach out to SMEs across the UK, asking for their support in creating as she puts it, ‘an economy that works for all.’ She has set out her objectives for a more productive, skilled work force, an economy balanced across the UK that’s open to new opportunities.
She went on to say: ‘This isn’t about dry economics. Britain’s 5.4 million small and medium-sized businesses provide people with jobs, put food on families’ tables and underpin the strength of our economy. They are a fundamental part of my vision of building a country that works for everyone, not just the privileged few.’
A blueprint for success
Evidence is emerging that in a time of uncertainty SMEs are determined to adopt a ‘business as usual’ attitude. A post-referendum poll by the Institute of Directors found that 34 per cent of bosses planned to hire at the same pace as before, or faster; 54 per cent have no current plans to cut investment.
Reassurance from Mark Carney that the Bank of England will ‘dampen the aftershocks’ and ensure funds continue to be available will come as welcome news for SMEs who struggled in the last recession as banks cut their lending to this sector.
It’s widely acknowledged amongst SMEs, and organisations that represent their interests, that if the government plays its part in making sure that post-Brexit the UK is clearly and universally viewed as a highly attractive place to do business, then SMEs will be quick to seize the opportunities this stance offers, ensuring that they play a major role in securing economic success by capitalising on the opportunities our new trading relationships look set to provide.
Sebastian James, CEO of Dixons Carphone, summed up the situation succinctly and spoke for many entrepreneurs keen to make a success of Brexit when he said: ‘Above all, we need to run our businesses, do our jobs… with more energy than ever before. We need to rebuild the open-hearted and open-minded country that we love. Everything else is just noise.’
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