Press Coverage - ForbesOriginally posted at http://www.forbes.com/sites/alisoncoleman/2016/06/30/brexit-for-or-against-why-britains-entrepreneurs-are-seeing-a-glass-half-full/#3b8be5fab16b
Amid the predictable post-Brexit market volatility, economic uncertainty and business angst, there is one group of people who are refusing to panic or lose the plot, and instead are taking a pragmatic stance; the forward looking, glass-half-full entrepreneurs who are adept at spotting opportunity.
They are facing the same challenges and struggles as every other business leader; currency depreciation, possible inflation, labour market pressures, and uncertainties over the UK’s eventual EU exit deal, but regardless of how they voted, there is no doubting their belief that things will work out.
Entrepreneur and business advisor Carl Reader, author of The Startup Coach , views Brexit with guarded optimism, anticipating a bumpy road ahead for the next few months as the financial markets come to terms with the aftermath of the referendum, but also a future full of opportunities.
“One of the biggest opportunities open to us is to become leaders in innovation,” he says. “The driverless vehicle industry needs a tech-savvy, nimble country to adapt its legislation so that the innovation can be tested and implemented quickly. Free from the shackles of historic EU regulations and directives, I believe that the UK can quickly adapt and lead this field.”
The same applies to other industries where automation of things that previously required human effort, and the legislation surrounding these projects, will need to be amended quickly.
Reader adds: “The current structure of the EU, with the legislative compromises that hinder development, would not allow us to develop these industries as quickly as we would like. With the combination of a lean democratic government and a tech-savvy workforce, there is no reason why Great Britain cannot become great in these industries.”
Some see the future as a glass brimming over. When Laura Taylor started her painting and decoration business Decor Angels the last global recession was in full swing, so she has first hand experience of an unpredictable market.
She says: “We knew the referendum was approaching and we were prepared for either outcome. When the Brexit result was announced I confirmed six weeks of work across three customers, which will keep me busy until November. I’m usually booked at least two months in advance, so this tells me that people are carrying on regardless.
“In 2007 I said this was the time for small businesses to rise up and fight back against the big companies that have overstretched themselves. Nine years on they need to do the same. Every tradesperson I know is chock-a-block with work, and excited at the prospect of a busy few years. Determination and hard work will get us through Brexit.”
Elsewhere, entrepreneurs in some of the UK’s key sectors, including financial services, are echoing the upbeat sentiment. Icelandic fintech company Meniga, recently moved its headquarters to London. The firm offers digital banking/personal finance management services which are used by the likes of Santander, mBank, ING and Commerzbank .
CEO Georg Ludviksson says: “The UK’s EU membership played a role in our decision, but it was by no means the only reason. Meniga has benefitted from London’s vibrant fintech scene, rich talent pool, transport links, access to the financial ecosystem and generally a good business environment.
“As long as policymakers ensure these things remain intact, we and other UK-based high-growth companies will be fine. The focus now must be on protecting the landscape that nurtures tech and fintech startups so that we can continue to thrive here in the UK. We are confident the policymakers will do so, and as such we have no plans to leave London.”
Some see the way forward as connecting the 52% of Brits who voted to leave the EU. Gi Fernando, founder of digital transformation and social impact startup Freeformers, says: “They feared for their jobs, their futures, technology, globalisation and being left behind. We’ve unlocked Pandora’s box of extremes; racism, nationalism, fear of globalisation and international trade.
“With technology, AI, VR and the Internet of Things all connecting us more and more, we will continue to have opposing forces splitting apart society. We must therefore peg digital education and digital learning to solving the real world and personal problems of the 52%. We must inspire them to influence their futures by instilling digital skills throughout the nation, driving a new digital revolution that powers the economy and empowers those who felt they had no future of work unless things changed.”