The results of a recent poll, responded to by over 165 senior business leaders who are members of The Clubhouse, London’s leading business members club, have been released. Home to 600 businesses of all shapes and sizes, members are primarily fast-growing SMEs and well-known blue-chip names, therefore a representative barometer of business confidence in the UK.
With the continued uncertainty that is plaguing the UK and Europe due to Brexit, it will be no surprise to hear that the results show 80% of members are uncertain about the UK economy, with 48% having a negative outlook regarding the UK economy over the next 12 months and another 32% on the fence about the year ahead.
These figures go relatively unchanged from a poll of The Clubhouse members in July 2016 (immediately post the Brexit referendum) which showed that at the time 78% of the business leaders who responded felt negative about the economic outlook for the UK in the 12 months that followed.
However, when looking at the outcome of The Clubhouse’s annual member survey, the outlook was positive when members were asked about how they feel about prospects for their own business: 78% claiming they feel positive and only 6% had a negative outlook for their business prospects regardless of their thoughts on the UK economy.
Despite 65% of members claiming that Brexit would have a negative impact on their business in July 2016, at that time a majority of 67% respondents also suggested that they would not delay making major business decisions or plan to change processes due to the referendum result. Business leaders have kept calm and carried on.
The results of this year’s survey shows that this trend continues with a vast majority of members claiming they have yet to see any specific impact from Brexit and 69% claiming the impact so far has been neutral. Nonetheless, a lack of transparency on what will happen to many businesses as and when Brexit comes has affected some, with 23% of members responding that they have already been negatively impacted by Brexit while 7% have actually seen some benefits to date.
The Clubhouse founder and CEO, Adam Blaskey, says ‘Here at The Clubhouse, our aim is simple: to make our members and their businesses more successful and what we are seeing is that regardless of macro-economic or geo-political worries, changes brought about by disruptive technology or other competitive threats, business leaders continue to be optimistic about their own businesses and continue to see growth opportunities.
Although economic outlook has been negative since at least the Summer of 2016, figures show that 66% of The Clubhouse members polled grew their businesses over the past 12 months by employing additional employees. Furthermore, a larger percentage - 77% of those who responded - expect to employee additional staff over the coming 12 months.
The optimism of The Clubhouse members clearly indicates that business will continue to grow despite the headwinds and the challenges that many expect to face over the next 12 months and beyond.