As the spotlight shines on entrepreneurs this week for Global Entrepreneurship Week, you would be forgiven for not wanting to address the elephant in the room - Brexit. How will this impact the UK's entrepreneurs?
Well, the answer is no one really knows. But recent headlines - including new research from Hitachi Capital and the Centre for Economics which has found that a third of business leaders have abandoned £65.5 billion of investments because of the Brexit vote - point to an uncertain future for British businesses.
A change in circumstance causes businesses to stop and take stock of their progress to date, prioritise and ensure they're on track for continued success. As a result, many businesses halt their investments until the future becomes clearer.
In uncertain times, it's absolutely key for UK entrepreneurs to review their progress but, so too, is monitoring the wider surroundings. That's why, at Barclays, through our Entrepreneurs Index, we regularly monitor the UK entrepreneurial landscape to establish what's changed and how we can best help businesses thrive.
The Barclays' Entrepreneurs Index is a regular series which has tracked the entrepreneurial lifecycle since 2011. It brings together environmental measures, such as access to finance and talent, along with entrepreneurial outcomes, such as growth and exit activity, in order to assess the strength of the UK's entrepreneurial environment.
We've released the Eighth Edition of the Index against a backdrop of political uncertainty and market volatility. As data for the second half of 2016 is yet to be published, our research reviews the entrepreneurial landscape prior to the Brexit vote - but this makes the findings even more important. As a nation we work tirelessly to foster an environment where our entrepreneurs can thrive; which is why it's so important that this momentum is not lost.
In our latest Index we have found that UK entrepreneurial performance is at an all-time high, up 10 percentage points since 2011 and showing strong progress and recovery after a decline in 2014. Crucially the UK's environmental enablers for entrepreneurs, such as access to finance and talent, are up 13 percentage points in five years and, encouragingly, 4 percentage points higher than in 2015. This also points to gradual improvements in regulation and research and innovation, all of which have created optimal conditions for enterprise in the UK. Evidently as a nation we have produced a great platform for people to launch their own enterprises. But the hard work doesn't stop here.
We also found that the number of early stage entrepreneurs fell 4 percentage points over the last year showing the UK is producing fewer businesses with ambitions to scale up. There was only a slight rise in the percentage of high-growth companies within the UK's SME population, growing by 0.7%, demonstrating moderate recovery when compared to the dramatic fall of 21 percentage points seen the year before.
Great strides have been made within the UK's entrepreneurial landscape - but the scale-up gap coupled with only a slight rise in high-growth ambitions shows we need to do more to help the UK's entrepreneurs reach the next stage in their lifecycle. This is all the more important in these testing times.
Key to this will be ensuring nothing stands in the way of entrepreneur's access to talent, skills and the UK's ability to attract inward investment. I firmly believe that we all - from policy makers, industry experts and entrepreneurs included - have an important role in sustaining and developing the UK's thriving entrepreneurial landscape.
Whether it's hard or soft Brexit, we are absolutely focused on providing the specialist support and funding for high-growth companies in order to generate tomorrow's world beaters, this will in turn drive all-important economic growth and job creation.