While Brexit has plunged small businesses with European connections into uncertainty, many firms led by EU bosses remain surprisingly optimistic.
Despite warnings over potential economic fallout, executives born in EU nations say there is still huge potential in a Britain outside the trading bloc.
It comes as new research found this week that small businesses in the UK with directors from EU nations grew faster than the average British business.
A study of 14,000 UK companies by Opal Transfer revealed those with at least one director from Europe saw turnover increase five percentage points more than the average.
But uncertainties remain, and EU bosses themselves can’t say for certain whether they will be allowed to stay, live and work in Britain after Brexit, never mind their staff.
“I have tried to be reassuring to my staff who are worried but I don’t want to be too reassuring because we still don’t know what will happen,” French-born Ludovic Blanc, founder of a dry-cleaning firm in London, told HuffPost UK.
I have tried to be reassuring to my staff who are worried but I don’t want to be too reassuring
“I say to those employees who are worried I say get your papers in order, get your residency status if you can. Please do your homework just so if something does happen they will be protected,” the 37-year-old, who employs 35 staff with many from the EU, added.
“We’ve had a few people go back to Europe recently and I think there will be more and more.”
Despite fleeting moments of worry, Blanc said fears of a mass exodus of EU citizens must surely be overblown.
“My wife and myself have been here for 14 years and overall, to be honest, I find England to be a pragmatic environment,” Blanc said.
“So many people in London don’t have a British passport and I can’t see the economy surviving without them.”
For Swedish-born Maria Trechman of year-old snack firm Well&Truly, Brexit propelled a fledgling business into an international exporter sooner than planned.
“Interestingly for us all our production takes place in Europe,” the co-owner told HuffPost. “Early on we were affected by what happened with the exchange rates.
Early on we were affected by what happened with the exchange rates
“Yet this has spurred us on to both grow in the UK and to look for opportunities outside the UK. We looked to export quicker than we might have and now we take orders in Euros to pay our factories in Euros.”
The firm, which counts Tesco and Ocado among a growing list of stockists and sold over 250,000 units last year, only employs British workers.
“We remain quite positive about Brexit,” Trechman added. “We pay tax in the UK and we contribute positively to the UK. We don’t think the outcome is going to be negative and we think the government will want us to stay.”
For French-Italian Antoine Bastille, the uncertainty cast over the UK comes with opportunity for his market analytics firm Earlymetrics.
“To be honest, we have a lot of optimistic feedback at the moment. We know there will be new rules of the game but we don’t know what these rules are,” the 26-year-old told HuffPost. “As an entrepreneur I have to be optimistic.”
The business, which analyses start ups and small business for clients including John Lewis and which operates across Europe, is recruiting for new roles in London.
“I do think that there is a strong talent in the UK,” he said. “And there are more than 250,000 French people in London and we are all very valuable. We sometimes joke that should all the French in Canary Wharf leave there would be issues.”
“Sometimes in France people do reduce the UK and London and say it is what it is because of Europe,” he added.
“But London or even the UK is not what it is just because it’s in Europe.”