Small and medium enterprise (SME) owners are becoming increasingly wary of a so-called Brexit, new research suggests.
Some 81 per cent of respondents in the Smith and Willamson Enterprise Index felt a UK vote to leave the European Union would negatively affect their business, up 13 percentage points from June 2015.
“When we first sought business owners’ thoughts on Brexit, the Conservative Party had just been elected and a potential Brexit felt quite remote,” said Guy Rigby, head of entrepreneurial services at Smith & Williamson.
“However, as we approach the referendum date, business leaders are seemingly more apprehensive about the prospect of leaving the EU.”
The research, which measures views and confidence of owner-managers and entrepreneurs in the UK, found the index was at its lowest point for a year.
The upcoming EU referendum and the state of the UK and world economies were seen as the primary causes.
Rigby added: “Our respondents did, however, find some reason for cheer; 80 per cent felt that their own prospects for the next 12 months had increased over the past quarter, up five per cent from the last quarter.
"This improvement potentially highlights an entrepreneurial self-belief in spite of broader market headwinds.”