This election was not all bad news for small businesses if it paves way for a ‘soft’ Brexit

Enterprise Nation

No one in their wildest dreams would have actually said a hung parliament was a good outcome for small businesses.

After all, what we need is a strong leader with a large majority to command respect in order to sail through tough Brexit negotiations to get the best deal.

Or is it? What happened last night, while astonishing, could actually play into our hands.

All early indications point to the fact that the result could lead to a soft Brexit – which is what our small business members were after, but never dared to dream of.

All this while, we’ve been spoon-fed the mantra that a hard Brexit was the only way forward, and that last night’s defiant election, which many predicted would be a landslide victory for Theresa May, would simply seal the deal.

Not so. That approach will absolutely have to be scrapped.

It was very clear to us at Enterprise Nation that the small business community was in fact very worried about the manifesto promises that this election was looking likely to herald.

Some of the business reforms in the Conservative Manifesto represented nothing short of a fulsome and comprehensive expansion of statutory worker rights and a consequent increase in costs and bureaucracy, unaffordable for a small business community already struggling with auto enrolment and business rates.

While these moves might have been understandable in the context of employment models used increasingly in the gig economy, we felt that if the traditional party of business really understood how Britain’s small businesses operated, they might be able to see why offering 12 months off to a valued member of a team of three might be unworkable for small companies.

There were also reforms in the pipeline that could have lead to extra admin for already overworked founders including digital tax data requirements. This endless box ticking, while worthy, is simply unworkable for the small business owner and leads to lower productivity. From our experience, small businesses often help out their employees instinctively. This is not necessarily the case for larger firms, where statutory reforms are more relevant.

Thankfully these are now likely to be delayed – which gives small business owners time to breath – and ready themselves for the opportunities that lie ahead.

What, however, we didn’t want delayed were much-needed reforms – such as the introduction of Export Vouchers to boost international trade ahead of Brexit – and a thorough review of business rates. These are likely to now play second fiddle to building a workable government that has the strength to do a Brexit deal. This is not ideal but if there is any group that can move quickly to respond to rapidly changing conditions, it’s the small business base of Britain.