UK small businesses are upbeat on Trump effect

Two thirds of those SMEs surveyed by Citibase Business Confidence Index believe Trump’s win would either be positive or have no impact on business with just 18 per cent predicting a negative outcome.

Across the country more SMEs surveyed were in favour of a soft Brexit (42 per cent) compared to hard (33 per cent). However, in London, those wanting soft Brexit jumped to over half of all those surveyed (54 per cent). This indicates that London SMEs are keener to keep closer ties with the European Union post-Brexit than the rest of the UK.

Steve Jude, CEO of Citibase says, ‘SMEs are the heartbeat of the UK economy and we have found that both Trump, and the impact he is having on the world, along with the confusion surround the UK’s Brexit strategy has been mostly water off a duck’s back for our country’s SMEs.

‘When it comes to the type of relationship SMEs want with Europe, opinions are mostly in favour of a ‘soft’ Brexit, which is timely with the fluctuation of sterling due to ongoing Brexit discussions.’

Other findings from the survey show that ‘hard Brexiteers’ believe the US president elect will have less of a negative effect on their business. Those in favour of a hard Brexit say there will be no impact (61 per cent) or a positive impact (19 per cent) from Trump’s rise to the White House. SMEs that prefer a soft Brexit are more likely to believe a Trump presidency will have a negative effect (29 per cent).

Regional opinion

The feeling towards the impact of Trump also differs dramatically throughout the country. SMEs in the North East are the most confident about their business with Trump in the White House with 26 per cent of those surveyed positive about his impact.

The regions most wary of Trump are Wales (36 per cent) and Scotland (26 per cent) predicting a negative impact on business, while London SMEs are split equally between those that think it will be positive (18 per cent) and negative (19 per cent).

The uncertainty surrounding Brexit has also altered the length of office contract SMEs prefer with a jump (57 per cent to 59 per cent) in those favouring a short-term agreement of less than three years; and a jump from 25 per cent to 29 per cent for those looking for less than one year’s commitment.

Jude adds, ‘2016 was a year of significant political change with the UK Brexit vote followed by a Donald Trump US election win. No one can predict the future, however with all this political uncertainty, it is unlikely a business would sign up to an office for the long term.

‘These SMEs crave agility to help manage risk and costs, allowing them to scale up and down easily in these fascinating times. What it has done though is increase their desire to move away from long term office contacts as why would anyone want to be tied down in these uncertain times.’

Many more SMEs (33 per cent vs. 20 per cent) have a positive rather than negative outlook for a post-Brexit Britain when the negotiations are over and the UK actually leaves the EU.

The results also show the Brexit vote had only a small negative effect on staff morale (17 per cent vs. 54 per cent positive or no change).

Three quarters (75 per cent) have said their revenues have either increased or not changed since the decision to leave the EU.