78% of global business leaders think UK is a good place to start a business

International business leaders think British entrepreneur’s reliability (53%), smartness (50%) and politeness (50%) are their best qualities

Despite Brexit, 78% of international business leaders think the UK is a good place to start and grow a business, according to new research from Barclays.

The survey of the perceptions of 1,350 global business leaders on UK entrepreneurs and trading with UK scale-ups, found that Brazil (88%), the US (85%) and China (84%) are the most optimistic about the UK, while this fell amongst European neighbours France (68%) and Germany (68%).

79% of respondents described the UK’s start-up scene as an important global growth business hub for entrepreneurs, while 82% would consider investing in a UK start-up.

In the wake of the referendum, 61% said it wouldn’t affect the way they do business with UK entrepreneurs, 84% that UK products continue to offer good value, 76% that the country would have a solid plan in place and 74% that the ‘Made in Britain’ brand is still “highly attractive”.

While 60% of those surveyed said Brexit could improve trade dealings with UK firms, 44% said it could damage trade with the UK in the future

Foreign business leaders cited the reliability (53%), smartness (50%) and politeness (50%) of British entrepreneurs as their best traits, while their drive (37%), inspiration (29%) and passion (29%) were found to be lacking.

However, 62% of respondents also said that being too polite could hold UK businesses back, while 65% claimed they could be better at negotiating deals and another 65% that they could be better at communicating.

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In fact, 59% of global business leaders thought US start-ups were more likely to succeed than those in the UK, while far more (87%) had heard of the US’s Silicon Valley than the UK’s Silicon Roundabout (65%) – 30% thought it was a TV show.

To encourage more trade, 47% said UK entrepreneurs should show greater differentiation and innovation in products and services, use more face-to-face communication (47%) and improve their digital skills (45%). It’s estimated these improvements could boost trade with the UK by 28%.

Richard Heggie, head of high growth and entrepreneurs at Barclays, commented:

“This shows UK entrepreneurs are held in high regard by business leaders globally, particularly in Brazil, China and the US.  However it’s critical that, against the backdrop of Brexit, the UK does everything it can to maintain and crucially build on this. That includes capitalising on the trade relationships and investment opportunities that the research highlights in order to thrive.”



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