How small businesses can turn the tide of the economy post Brexit

The Brexit vote added to the economic uncertainty of the ongoing skills shortage the UK was already facing. With a question mark over the availability of skilled workers from the EU, business owners are becoming increasingly cautious when it comes to long term financial planning. As big corporations struggle to cope with the change, it’s the role played by small businesses that can make all the difference in restoring the health of the economy.

According to the Department for Business Innovation and Skills – gov.uk, the contribution of small businesses was £1.8trillion in 2015 versus £1.2 trillion in 2016. This decline could explain an apprehension in committing investment to hiring full time staff. Jonny Dunning, CEO of weliketowork.com says, “99% of all businesses in the UK are classed as small or medium sized enterprises and it is these that are often referred to as the engine room of our economy.” Small enterprises engage more than 50% of private sector workers and account for a significant portion of GDP. This is what makes it all the more important to focus on helping small businesses to thrive in order to maintain a robust economy.

So, what’s the best way for small businesses to stay productive without having to take risks?

Dunning believes that small enterprises can break down their objectives into smaller, more manageable portions in order to avoid hiring permanent staff. Outsourcing projects to freelancers would achieve the same end result for a much lower cost. There is a huge resource of 2 million freelancers in the UK waiting to be tapped into to offer almost any kind of professional service, ranging from web designing to content marketing, from accounting to customer service. So instead of investing in a full time worker, dividing the tasks into smaller projects and offering them to skilled freelancers can drastically reduce recruitment, insurance, equipment and overhead costs. An additional advantage is being able to get experts in their fields to work on specific projects.

A win-win situation for all

Offering projects as temporary contracts to freelance workers can prove to be a win-win situation for all concerned parties. Small businesses can benefit from the flexibility and cost reduction that this option provides, whilst it also offers a much-needed opportunity to a host of skilled and qualified people for whom the only constraint might be the ability to work in a conventional 9-5 office set-up.

The hidden workforce that can give a boost to small businesses  

According to the IPSE, there were more than 250,000 stay at home mums freelancing in the UK in 2015. In addition to that are the stay at home dads, retirees, talented people with disabilities who have a whole lot to contribute and others who offer freelance services around their regular working hours. It is this pool of workers that can provide small businesses with top notch professional skills and assist them in riding out the current uncertainty in the financial environment. All it takes is a few successful projects to kick start growth, thus setting the economy back on track.

The Brexit vote may well prove to be a blessing in disguise for the millions of talented people who have the time, knowledge and skills to be able to offer competent professional services but only need opportunities to come their way. Now is the time for small businesses to harness this huge resource, thus reversing the worker shortage and – in turn – the slump in the economy.