THE BLOG

Britain Is Still Open For Business

01/11/2016 17:40

As Prime Minister Theresa May gathered with leaders from the rest of the UK last week for her first official Brexit meeting, it became clear that the path towards the UK exiting the European Union is going to be a long and winding one.

But while the meetings continue, and amid the media focus on any tension between our politicians, there is an altogether more serious piece of news that we need the world to hear. And that is that 'Britain is still open for business'.

The UK enjoyed an economic bounce in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote, but it has since started to lose that momentum and is now facing a weakening pound with experts warning of a further squeeze in living standards across the UK.

But is that how the rest of the world sees Britain? Do they see the doom and gloom? Or can they look beyond the headlines and see a prospering nation they want to continue doing business with?

We decided to test the water and gauge sentiment amongst international businesses. Our Doing Business with the UK research showed that international confidence in the UK's entrepreneurs is high. We spoke to just under 1,400 global business leaders about their perceptions of British entrepreneurs and their experiences trading with UK scale-ups and the results are encouraging.

A staggering 78% of overseas business leaders think the UK is a good place to start and grow a business, despite the Brexit vote. And in fact, over two thirds (61%) of those leaders we spoke to said Brexit will not have any impact on the way they do business with UK entrepreneurs. This suggests that our international partners still see value in trading with us. And long may that continue.

But it is important that we don't get complacent. Now more so than ever, with Brexit looming, it is essential that the UK does everything within its power to not only maintain its trading status quo, but also think about how it can build on this - particularly for our fast-moving, high-growth entrepreneurial future success stories. This could include considering how best to capitalise on those trade relationships, investment opportunities available and tapping into the international sentiment and support highlighted within our research.

Chief among those is safe-guarding the British brand. It is imperative that, hard Brexit or otherwise, we do not tarnish this. Further findings from our research suggest that 'Made in Britain' is still a highly attractive concept with almost three quarters (74%) agreeing so. I firmly believe that we all - from policy makers, industry experts and entrepreneurs included - have an important role to play in boosting the reputation of UK enterprise domestically and overseas.

Of course, there is always more that could be done to boost our international appeal. Almost half (47%) of those leaders we spoke to suggested greater differentiation and innovation in products and services could help. Other factors included an improvement in the UK's digital skills (45%). Our research suggests that if we took steps to address these short-comings, global business leaders would increase their trade with the UK by almost a third (28%).

As a recognised global hub for high growth businesses, we will certainly be working hard to ensure that we play our part in showing the rest of the world that the UK is very much open for business and that we're here to support entrepreneurs scaling their businesses here.

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