Small business confidence at four-year low

Business news and opinion

12 July 2016

The confidence of small business owners fell to a four-year low during the lead up to the EU referendum, a Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) survey revealed.

And following the UK’s decision to leave the EU, businesses are likely to be feeling more uncertain about the future than ever. As a result, the FSB is calling for more government support for SMEs.

FSB urging more support

To get through these troubled times, the FSB is calling on ministers to make it easier for small firms to do business. The Federation’s National Chairman, Mike Cherry, said "this should include ending moves to introduce disruptive digital tax reporting and honouring commitments to expand small business rate relief." Mr Cherry also suggested taking care when considering the 2017 national living wage rate, to ensure small businesses can afford to pay higher wages during the challenging economic times ahead.

The post-Brexit outlook

Changing business conditions, such as the introduction of the national living wage in April, and the uncertainty surrounding the referendum, has caused anxiety among many small firms. However, once Britain's relationship with the EU is clarified this should give business owners a confidence boost.

In the short-term, there's a lot to consider. With recession potentially looming and the future of 'freedom of movement' under question, the current situation will bring new challenges for small firms. In a truly British fashion, it's important to keep calm and carry on.

The silver lining

The dropping value of the pound will impact importers the most. If your business exports products or services, you could gain more overseas custom as your product becomes more affordable. This is a good opportunity to advertise to clients and customers abroad – they know the pound is dropping but they may need a reminder that this means cheaper prices for UK products.

Things can only get better

It's also important to remember that the situation is not permanent. The falling pound, the UK's economy dropping behind France and the downgrading of Britain’s credit rating by financial services agency Standard & Poor’s are market reactions to the uncertainty the country is currently facing. And it's easy to see why.

After the referendum, British politics was in disarray. There were numerous high-profile resignations, a Conservative leadership contest, a Labour leadership challenge, and refreshed discussions around Scottish independence. Investors don't like uncertainty, however once a solid Brexit plan is in place the future business landscape should become clearer.