For UK micro busi­nesses a massive change could be on the hori­zon. Brexit is now just around the corner, with many in the small busi­ness com­munity con­cerned about the adverse impact this could have on their enter­prises.

A recent poll from the cloud account­ing soft­ware com­pany FreeAgent of 500 micro busi­ness own­ers revealed more than two-thirds of respond­ents (66%) said they believed Brexit would have a neg­at­ive impact on the eco­nomy – while just 13% said they thought it would have a pos­it­ive impact.

Among the oth­er find­ings in the sur­vey were that 60% of respond­ents said they would be in favour of hold­ing a second Brexit ref­er­en­dum, com­pared to just 26% who said they would oppose such a move. And just 7% of micro-busi­ness own­ers said that they believed Brexit would have a pos­it­ive impact on their own busi­nesses – com­pared to 38% who said they thought leav­ing the EU would have neg­at­ive con­sequences for them.

To gain an insight into what micro busi­ness own­ers and ser­vice pro­viders whose cus­tom­ers include small busi­nesses, I have been ask­ing the ques­tion: will micro busi­nesses thrive after Brexit. Below are some responses to that ques­tion, which gives a good snap­shot of cur­rent opin­ion.

Darren Fell is the CEO and Founder of Crunch

Dar­ren Fell is the CEO and Founder of Crunch

Micro busi­nesses have a great chance to cap­it­al­ise on the chan­ging con­di­tions that will fol­low Brexit. The polit­ic­al and eco­nom­ic uncer­tainty that is prov­ing so dif­fi­cult for large busi­nesses may be an advant­age for the smal­lest, giv­en their nat­ur­al agil­ity. Unen­cumbered by man­age­ment struc­tures, prop­erty or heavy staff costs, micro busi­ness are quick to adapt and may also escape the worst of any imme­di­ate legis­lat­ive impact. The UK’s micro busi­ness com­munity is increas­ingly ser­vice-driv­en and those in tech­no­logy con­sultancy, IT and change man­age­ment are likely to see fast-grow­ing demand both before and after Brexit, as cor­por­ates seek help adapt­ing, com­ply­ing with new legis­la­tion and even relo­cat­ing.”


Mike Smith, Director, CompanyDebt

Mike Smith, Dir­ect­or, Com­panyDebt

While micro­busi­nesses may not be as dir­ectly impacted by Brexit as SME’s, any over­all eco­nom­ic impact is going to exert a ripple effect on the sec­tor, which is the largest part of our busi­ness com­munity. If interest rates rise, we are going to see micro busi­nesses find­ing it harder to access fin­ance. Those busi­nesses which need to import goods will cer­tainly find their bot­tom line affected, and of course, there is the on-going con­cern over our employ­ment land­scape, and the pos­sib­il­ity of skills short­age if free move­ment of EU work­ers is restric­ted.”


Julia Kermode, CEO, The Freelancer & Contractor Services Association

Julia Ker­mode, CEO, The Freel­an­cer & Con­tract­or Ser­vices Asso­ci­ation

Freel­an­cers, con­tract­ors and the self-employed are all micro busi­nesses and for them, all the uncer­tainty around Brexit could be extremely pos­it­ive as they may find them­selves more in demand than ever, as busi­nesses will need the flex­ib­il­ity that this work­force brings. These are the work­ers who can enable busi­nesses to be agile and suc­cess­ful in times of uncer­tainty and busi­nesses which might be strug­gling with the impact of Brexit, can turn to micro busi­nesses for spe­cial­ist skills, expert­ise and know­ledge to help them through the pro­cess without com­mit­ting them­selves to all the costs (and risks) that come with hir­ing a full-time employ­ee.”


Dave Chaplin, CEO and Founder, ContractorCalculator

Dave Chap­lin, CEO and Founder, Con­tract­or­Cal­cu­lat­or

Where there is change there is always oppor­tun­ity. Leav­ing the EU is a massive one-off pro­ject that will impact on vir­tu­ally every organ­isa­tion in the UK. This is exactly the sort of pro­ject that freel­an­cers and con­tract­ors are best at. There is a lot of uncer­tainty around Brexit which is not good for employ­ment and employ­ees but is pos­it­ive for freel­an­cers and con­tract­ors, those micro busi­nesses which are a low- risk altern­at­ive to employ­ees dur­ing uncer­tain times.”


Mark Hart, Deputy Director of the Enterprise Research Centre and Professor of Small Business and Entrepreneurship at Aston University

Mark Hart, Deputy Dir­ect­or of the Enter­prise Research Centre and Pro­fess­or of Small Busi­ness and Entre­pren­eur­ship at Aston Uni­ver­sity

The most author­it­at­ive sur­vey of UK micro-busi­nesses was under­taken by the Enter­prise Research Centre (ERC) in 2018 (Q1) and showed that many are home-based and three-quar­ters have no growth ambi­tion and aim to ‘keep their busi­ness sim­il­ar to how it oper­ates now’. So, with March 2019 approach­ing at speed, the evid­ence would sug­gest that, giv­en their cur­rent mod­est per­form­ance and ambi­tions, this is not a group of firms that is ‘set to thrive’ after whatever type of Brexit emerges. Increas­ing uncer­tainty over the poten­tial for a ‘no deal’ will only serve to exacer­bate this assess­ment.”


Ben Martin, Founder of the Brexit Tracker

Ben Mar­tin, Founder of the Brexit Track­er

Micro busi­nesses have been hit hard by Brexit. Fall­ing con­sumer and busi­ness con­fid­ence levels have slowed down decision-mak­ing and spend­ing com­mit­ments, which are the lifeblood behind a micro enterprise’s exist­ence. Such micro firms have little sur­plus cash and an even smal­ler pool of resources. So, they’re unlikely to be able to grasp inter­na­tion­al trade oppor­tun­it­ies eas­ily and so profit from the weakened GBP. Yet it is not all bad news: These firms are also the most-nimble and can pivot their sales strategies quickly and instantly com­mu­nic­ate to all their staff, sup­pli­ers and cus­tom­ers to learn from Brexit issues and take action.”

And what’s my view? I think Brexit is an oppor­tun­ity for all micro busi­nesses. Yes, there could be an ini­tial peri­od of adjust­ment with price rises, but these should sub­side as the world adjusts. Napo­leon is quoted as describ­ing Eng­land as a “nation of shop­keep­ers” with indi­vidu­als run­ning their own enter­prises. We’d call them micro busi­nesses today. So per­haps Brexit will return the coun­try to a more inde­pend­ent stance, with micro busi­nesses deliv­er­ing a myri­ad of products and ser­vices. Let’s revis­it this top­ic in a couple of years, to see who was right. Stay tuned.

David Howell

David Howell

Journalist, Writer, Micro Publisher at Nexus Publishing
Dave Howell is Nexus Publishing. I have been working as a freelance writer, journalist and publisher for the last 20 years. I specialise in technology and business subjects. My work has appeared in the national press and many of the leading technology and business magazines.
David Howell

Latest posts by David Howell (see all)