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Survey reveals uncertainty

Half of start-ups unclear over EU issues

Jim Duffy ESparkHalf of those running start-up businesses in the Entrepreneurial Spark incubators say they do not have enough information to make an impartial decision. Half also thought the referendum would impact their business.

Those who took part in the survey were based in the Hatcheries in Glasgow, Ayrshire, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Bristol, Brighton, Leeds, Manchester and Belfast.

When questioned on remaining within the EU, the 192 entrepreneurs stated their biggest concerns as red tape and bureaucracy caused by EU legislation, the control of our borders/immigration policy and the taxation and cost implications of UK funds going to the EU.

Despite the lack of clarity, four in five believed it would be best for Britain to remain in the EU.

Commenting on the feedback, Entrepreneurial Spark Chief Executive Optimist Jim Duffy said: “When the results of the EU referendum come back after the 23 June vote, whatever they may be, it’s important for businesses to focus on how to make it work.

“Half of the Entrepreneurial Spark chiclets stated that there isn’t enough information to help them decide which way to vote and it can be difficult to decide what’s best for your business.

“Half of our Chiclets also thought the referendum would impact their businesses. I’d always encourage entrepreneurs to embrace opportunities – whatever the outcome of the vote, look at how it can benefit your business and if you encounter problems that can’t be resolved move on quickly.

“It’s great to see so many of our chiclets engaged with the EU vote and looking at what business implications there could be.”

> The uncertainty over Scotland’s relationship with the European Union and subsequent long-term supply chain worries is negatively impacting the country’s export performance, according to Tom Sime, managing director of Glasgow-based Exchange Communications.

Mr Sime’s comments came after HM Revenue & Customs revealed Scotland’s exports in the first quarter have fallen by 6.11% to £4.06 billion from £4.3bn in same period last year.

Total exports for the year dropped by 11.56% from £19.6bn to £17.49bn.

Trade with the EU has tumbled by 34% between its highest point in the last 13 quarters recorded, dipping from £2.3bn in Q2 2013 to a new low of £1.65bn in Q1 2016.

Exchange Communications, which exports telecommunications equipment and skills to 105 countries, including 16 European nations, believes the June 23 referendum is partly contributing to the situation along with falling oil prices.

Mr Sime said: “The EU Referendum is certainly adding to the concerns for businesses considering a foray into the export market.

“It’s difficult to plan in the long-term when you don’t know what state of play will be after June 23, which can massively impact upon supply-chains and target forecasts.

“Each of the European countries is a potential marketplace and my advice to businesses which are understandably unsure about whether to trade overseas, would be seize the opportunity.

“My business has traded across the world for a number of years and while at times it’s slightly more cumbersome than operating domestically, the advantages of lucrative foreign contracts certainly outweigh the initial complexities.

“There is also a wide range of support and advice available on topics like currency, trade certifications and even translation from trade bodies and business organisations to help anyone who may currently be cautious.”

Scotland’s trade with countries in the European Union made up 38.54% of its overall total.

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