David Smith was one of the invited guests for the Three Counties Radio debate, sponsored by the Federation of Small Businesses, on the subject of helping SMEs cope with the UK’s transition out of the EU.
The panel consisted of a mix of people with different views on Brexit: Baroness Sal Brinton, President of the Liberal Democrats; Councillor Sharon Taylor, leader of Stevenage Borough Council; Patrick O’Flynn, UKIP MEP for the East of England; and Councillor Duncan Bell, Welwyn and Hatfield District Council Executive Member, who were joined by Professor Damien Ward, Dean of the University of Hertfordshire Business School, which was hosting the event.
The debate covered some of the challenges SMEs may face with Brexit, including the fact that economists seem to agree that it is easier to trade with large markets near you, such as France and Germany, rather than markets that are geographically distant.
Also discussed was the challenge of securing skilled labour, which is a major concern for many small businesses. The issue was raised about smaller companies being adversely affected by Brexit if the sales and revenue of their large client organisations are reduced because these clients no longer have access to EU sponsored projects.
There were also concerns expressed about the uncertainty of the eventual Brexit deal, and the issue of how younger SME owners, many of whom are in favour of staying in Europe, will respond to being outside the EU five or more years on.
Importantly, in the debate, it was noted that only a comparatively small proportion of small businesses actually export to Europe and therefore their fortunes are less caught up with Brexit-related issues, and more with the general state of the economy.
Encouragingly, there was widespread agreement and positivity from the panel about the resilience and entrepreneurial spirit of many SMES; most took the view that the UK would continue to be a centre for entrepreneurial and start-up excellence.
But still on the table is the issue – irrespective of Brexit – of the comparatively high failure rate of new businesses. We know that only 40% of businesses make it to the end of year four. It is this challenge – helping new businesses grow and succeed – that is the focus of DVL Smith’s range of Excellence Tools to help reduce SME business risk and identify marketing opportunities. If you would like more information, then please visit excellencetools.com or email David Smith.