Brexit: Is Britain Still A Good Place To Start A Business?

As the Brexit storm rages on, prospective business owners may be thinking twice about setting up in the UK...

With domestic and international economic volatility keeping the markets on their toes, the impact of Brexit on the UK's business landscape remains to be seen. While many 'worst-case-scenarios' seem to have been avoided (for the time being) a huge amount of uncertainty lingers - leaving millions speculating about their business' futures...

Fortunately, recent research should lend nervous entrepreneurs some reassurance over the consequences of Brexit - at least from the perspective of the UK's overseas trading partners...

International Confidence

Despite the referendum result, a study, conducted by Barclays Bank on 1,350 participants, showed that 78% of international business leaders still consider the UK to be a "good place" to set-up - and 82% would consider a UK start-up as an investment target. The study revealed a variety of attitudes to the post-Brexit start-up landscape:

  • 79% of business leaders view the UK's start-up landscape as an "important global growth hub"
  • Brazil (88%), the United States (85%) and China (84%) were the most optimistic about the UK's potential to create a new "Apple or Google"-type business giant. Germany (64%) and France (68%), on the other hand, were the least optimistic.
  • 61% of participants said the referendum wouldn't change the way they do business with the UK.

Britain's established reputation seems to be playing a part in the international reaction. 74% of study participants said the 'Made In Britain' label remained "highly attractive", while a variety of stereotypically 'British' business qualities, including 'smartness', 'reliability' and 'politeness', were listed as positives for prospective entrepreneurs.

Brexit Challenges

The attributes and qualities embodied by British business may be helpful in the short-term, but the study revealed a range of potential long-term problems, including the need for the post-Brexit UK to maintain a competitive advantage in an increasingly-crowded international marketplace... 

  • More than 60% of international business leaders think UK entrepreneurs are too polite, and need to improve their face-to-face communication and negotiation skills.
  • Only 37% identified British business owners as 'driven', and only 29% as 'passionate'.
  • 59% think start-ups in the US are more likely to succeed than those in the UK.
  • 40% of business leaders thought they might reduce trade with the UK post-Brexit.
  • A lack of digital skills is particularly concerning for potential international partners.

Innovation & Skill

Business leaders have highlighted the need for UK entrepreneurs to meet the challenges of Brexit by not only delivering more innovative products and services, but becoming better at selling them in the marketplace. While there's no guarantee the attitudes of the international community will translate to the real world, they offer a roadmap for businesses trying to navigate the Brexit landscape.

'Brand Britain' still represents a reliable foundation for UK entrepreneurs but, to ensure a successful future, that label must become a platform for growth, competition and creativity.