Almost a third of UK companies could be forced to shift operations abroad after Brexit, according to a study by the Institute of Directors released on Friday.
A survey of 1,200 senior businessmen and women found that 16% already had relocation plans while a further 13% were actively considering a move.
More large firms have already moved out of the UK, but small businesses are almost twice as likely to be actively considering the prospect, the survey suggested.
Edwin Morgan, interim director general of the Institute of Directors, said: “It brings no pleasure to reveal these worrying signs, but we can no more ignore the real consequences of delay and confusion than business leaders can ignore the hard choices that they face in protecting their companies.
“Change is a necessary and often positive part of doing business, but the unavoidable disruption and increased trade barriers that no deal would bring are entirely unproductive.
“While the actions of big companies have been making headlines, these figures suggest that smaller enterprises are increasingly considering taking the serious step of moving some operations abroad.
“For these firms, typically with tighter resources, to be thinking about such a costly course of action makes clear the precarious position they are in.”
A government spokesperson also said the best way to provide certainty for business as the Britain leaves the EU is to “leave with a deal”.
The risk that Britain will crash out of the EU on 29 March with no deal has become “uncomfortably high“, with some analysts putting the odds at 35% after parliament rejected an amendment to take a no-deal Brexit off the table on Tuesday.