EU referendum: Entrepreneurs react to Brexit result

Britain has voted to leave the EU with a majority 51.9% vote. Startups.co.uk hears what the country's business owners have to say...

Entrepreneurs awoke on Friday morning to the news that the UK has voted to leave the EU, with vote leave receiving a 51.9% majority (17.4m votes), compared to 48.1% votes (16.1m) for remain.

For many, the news has comes as a shock and the implications that Brexit may have on business are vast.

In Startups.co.uk’s snapshot Twitter poll on the day of the referendum, which surveyed 124 start-up/business owners, 52% said they were voting to remain in the EU so the Brexit win is likely to have dealt a blow to those founders who felt Britain was ‘stronger in’.

To get a better picture of what the UK’s entrepreneurs think of the EU referendum result, we’ve pulled together comments from a number of successful business owners…

“It’s a disaster”

Angus Dent, chief executive of Archover:

“The outcome is a disaster for this country. You can expect foreign businesses, institutions and other investors to start pulling out of the UK. The chancellor will be forced to put together an emergency Budget to plug the gap and this country, which was on course to become the world’s fourth largest economy, will now go backwards. What a waste of all the hard work.”

“It’s seismic…BUT we will have to embrace change”

Debbie Wosskow OBE, CEO and co-founder of Love Home Swap and founding chair of Sharing Economy UK:

“Make no mistake, the news this morning is seismic. It is disappointing that we are in this situation and there is no doubt that the weeks ahead will be turbulent for many different reasons.

“That said, we are where we are – and now entrepreneurs need to draw on their ability to embrace change and deal with adversity by tackling these challenges and carving out a new way forward.”

“Brexit could improve recruitment options”

Phil Foster, managing director of Love Energy Savings:

“There is a chance that the UK will no longer be the talent magnet it used to be, resulting in more bureaucracy and a reduced candidate pool for small and medium enterprises to dive into.

“However, the alternative view is that the Brexit will actually improve recruitment options for UK businesses. There is a very real possibility that the UK may now introduce a points-based system, such as that used in Australia, which could result in us welcoming in higher quality candidates.

“The ability of the UK to allow in more migrants from outside of the EU, without exceeding any immigration quota, will also be something to keep an eye on. By no longer having to give preference to EU workers, opportunities open up for those coming to the UK from India, China and beyond. This is surely great news for those seeking STEM candidates.”

“We must all adapt accordingly”

Hiroki Takeuchi, CEO of GoCardless:

“As a tech scale-up, we face unpredictable and emerging challenges all the time. But companies like [us] have proven their resilience in the market.

“We sympathise with the next generation of start-ups, who may suffer without some of the advantages that got us where we are today. But those who make it will demonstrate similar resilience for this new status quo. We must all adapt accordingly.”

“A big blow to micro-businesses and exporters”

Ed Molyneux, co-founder and CEO of FreeAgent:

“It was clear during the run up to the referendum that the overwhelming majority of micro-business owners and freelancers were in favour of the UK remaining in the EU, and that they did not think a ‘Brexit’ would be beneficial for their own businesses or the economy in general.

“The ramifications of leaving the EU are going to be huge – especially for small businesses who sell products and services worldwide, rather than just domestically. And we now look set for a lengthy period of uncertainty while negotiations presumably take place over the terms of the UK’s exit.”

“Tourism to the UK may actually increase”

John Brennan, CEO of Amaris Hospitality:

“International tourism is one of the most rapidly growing sectors of the UK economy as disposable incomes increase around the world. With sterling weakening on this news, the rest of the world will get more pounds for their currency, making the UK a cheaper destination to visit, and conversely making it expensive for Britons going abroad.”

“London will remain global financial capital BUT it will get more difficult”

Mike Laven, CEO of Currencycloud:

“London’s advantageous time zone, strong financial history and FX expertise aren’t going to disappear overnight. Somewhere else in Europe being a global financial capital. Seriously? It took decades to develop the infrastructure of firms, services, lawyers, insurers, intermediaries, and myriads of financial niches and massive personnel base that makes London special.

“Talk to European tech entrepreneurs and they are concerned about being cut off from London’s resources. Will it get more difficult? Of course, but with our contingency plans in place we’ll avoid the doomsday scenarios.”

“Businesses operating in Europe need to be prepared for volatility”

Philppe Gelis, CEO and co-founder of Kantox:

“We cannot be naive: what we are facing here is not an only-British issue, but a European one. Spain is having a General election vote in two days. Everything is connected.

“We’ll soon discover how today’s result will affect them. Businesses operating on a European level need to brace themselves for continued volatility that can be expected to continue for many months, if not years, to come.”

What’s your view on today’s EU referendum result? Have your say in our forum discussion here.

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