This blog has been dedicated to all things outside of the realm of politics for as long as my business has existed. However, when I woke up yesterday morning, a change so monumental had taken place that I feel compelled to write about it, if only to look at the facts once again and perhaps to stave off the feeling of existential dread brought on by the vote to leave. My family and I have never been neutral on the subject of Brexit and what it means for entrepreneurs and small business owners – we believe it is bad, at least in the foreseeable short-term economic future.
the EU and this small business
A little bit of my personal and business history is necessary here. When I relocated to Europe from the United States in 2013, it was under the EU rules. My husband and I went to live and work in Dublin, Ireland first before making the UK our home, again under the European immigration laws rather than the internal UK ones. That year saw me change three different capitals of three different English-speaking countries, and tested my limits in more ways than I could have predicted. In short, 2013 was ugly and painful, but it was also the year that this business was born. With no savings left and my passport being held temporarily, I had this idea to start making something with my hands: lip balms first, then soaps, then perfumes. It became my purpose and my livelihood, and I – an immigrant who came here under the EU rules – contribute to the UK economy by having created my own job and by paying taxes.
A positive way to move forward: EU lite?
Having benefited so directly from the UK membership in the EU, I am distraught over the vote to leave. Businesses and markets don’t like uncertainty, and I will only feel relieved if and when there appears to be a somewhat positive way to move forward for all of us. My biggest hope is that the UK remains in the European Economic Area, which is ultimately ‘EU membership lite’. It will allow small and micro businesses to export easily into the single EU market without worrying about tariffs and other unnecessary barriers. The last thing any one of us, small business entrepreneurs, wants is to add to the regulatory burden when we are used to it being so simple and easy to sell to our European friends.
An opportunity for international customers
The immediate consequence of this vote to leave is a much weaker pound sterling. In the aftermath Brexit, the pound hit its 30 year low against the US dollar. However, that means that it’s a great moment for my American customers to buy something from across the pond. If you’ve been eyeing that soap or that perfume, for yourself or a loved one, now is an excellent opportunity to get it for less! The same goes for my European clients, since the pound is weak against the euro as well.
Brexit and small business: still early days
Ultimately, I want peace, prosperity and better environment – both natural and cultural, for the UK and the rest of the EU. I believe that the interests of small businesses would be best addressed inside the European Economic Area. There are so many questions that have been created by this event, but it’s too early to work out any specific answers. In the meantime, I wish for a world with fewer walls and more bridges, both literally and figuratively.