Car and house sales have slumped. The pound is falling. Businesses have put projects on ice. This week’s news has shown that as consumers and traders we’re united by a common fear: uncertainty.
Confidence in business
Stability and certainty are not glamorous concepts. But, as entrepreneurs, when we head to the ballot boxes on Thursday we must take time to reflect on life without these seemingly mundane tenets.
Over the last few weeks we’ve canvassed the views of 250 of our clients, who provide professional services across the whole of the UK economy. Independent consultants and contractors are a very good barometer of economic stability, directly reflecting the confidence of businesses. They offer a unique leading insight into the health of UK Plc and their views can help us to understand the consequences of Brexit.
If we look back to 2008, consultants and contractors soon felt the pinch as businesses, faced with uncertain times ahead, put projects on hold or stopped them completely: the number of consultants dropped significantly before the recession bedded in. Conversely, as soon as the first signs of economic stability appeared, the number of consultants rose too.
After the 2008 recession it took just 12 months for the consultancy & contracting market to recover. Confidence in wider economic stability was much longer coming. That’s why it’s concerning to feel the winds of uncertainty blowing through the corridors of business once again. Of those 250 consultants and contractors surveyed, 23% have witnessed businesses once again slowing or stopping projects.
Even during the 2008 recession, consultants and contractors told us they were optimistic things would change. The feeling about Brexit is entirely different. One in three of those surveyed believe that the uncertainty of Brexit will negatively impact them.
Brexit is not an apocalypse for business
We will survive in an independent UK. However, we must be prepared for the disruption of uncertainty and instability.
As one respondent said: “The effects of disentanglement now will certainly make for confusion in business activity in the near to long term future with an unclear and uncertain benefit”.
The challenge for those championing a remain vote is that stability and certainty is precious to us all, yet is neither aspirational or exciting. But it’s something we all desire. It gives consumers confidence to buy a house. It gives traders confidence to invest in the UK. It gives entrepreneurs the confidence to start up, and to scale up. But above all, it gives multi-nationals confidence in our skills, our ambition and investment value.
Please note: this post is an abridged version of the full ‘Brexit: why uncertainty is worse than leaving or remaining’ article published on Minute Hack.