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To say that the last few months have been tough for SMEs is a huge understatement. For many, this has been a period of falling revenues, furloughed workers and not being able to open their doors for business. Yet, among all the negative stories about SMEs and the challenges of COVID-19, there are a few glimmers of hope: including this story from the Great British Entrepreneur Awards (GBEA).

SMEs and COVID – a tough pandemic with promising times ahead?

GBEA teamed up with Starling Bank to survey more than 300 small and medium-sized business across the UK.

Unsurprisingly, many of the respondents reported that recent times have been horrendous. A huge 63% said they had seen revenues decline because of the coronavirus pandemic. Fully 19% said they had made no profit at all. One in five said they had considered closing.

Business owners have also been under major pressure during the pandemic. 30% have used their own money to keep their businesses going. A third had to furlough staff. 21% are still not confident they can pay their monthly bills.

Yet, despite this, many of the SMEs that took part in the research are positive about the future. This is partly due to the fact that lockdown has eased – 75% of business owners said they are more confident than a month ago.

Innovation – the key to post COVID success?

While fewer lockdown restrictions have helped SMEs, the research has highlighted the adaptability and innovation of many firms. 39% of them made significant changes to the way they do business in order to survive. Some shifted their businesses online, gave priority to digital products or created delivery services.

One of the most eye-catching examples of innovation was a farmer who set up a ‘goats for Zoom calls’ service and made over £20,000. If you’re interested, you can pay £5 to have a goat appear in your work video calls. It’s something that can certainly break the ice… though perhaps you might want to refrain if you want to discuss pay rises or promotions!

It’s encouraging that growing numbers of SMEs are positive about the future. Yet, the research also found that 66% of business owners said their mental health has suffered because of the pandemic. Hopefully fewer lockdown restrictions combined with a dash of business innovation will help many to recover soon.

At THP, we are always happy to discuss new business ideas with our clients. So, if you have a fresh business concept, talk to us – it may not be as unusual as putting goats on Zoom, but it could be what your business needs to take the next step away from the pandemic.

Avatar for Jon Pryse-Jones
About Jon Pryse-Jones

Since joining THP in 1978, Jon Pryse-Jones has been hands on with every area of the business. Now specialising in strategy, business planning, and marketing, Jon remains at the forefront of the growth and development at THP.

An ideas man, Jon enjoys getting the most out of all situations, “I act as a catalyst for creative people and encourage them to think outside the box,” he says, “and I’m not afraid of being confrontational. It often leads to a better result for THP and its clients.”

Jon’s appreciation for THP extends to his fellow team members and the board.  “They really know how to run a successful business,” he says.  He’s keen on IT and systems development as critical to success, and he continues to guide THP to be at the cutting edge and effective.

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