Small Businesses Move Quickly To Adapt To Coronavirus Crisis

New research by Small Business Britain and BT Skills for Tomorrow shows early signs of small business resilience, but over half still expect at least a 50 per cent fall in profits.

A third (36 per cent) of the UK’s small businesses have pivoted their businesses online, and have introduced new products or services (33 per cent), according to new research from Small Business Britain and BT Skills For Tomorrow, which shows early signs of small businesses ability to adapt during the coronavirus crisis.

The research also reveals that over a quarter (27 per cent) of small businesses have secured new customers, while almost two fifths (19 per cent) have moved to a new delivery model, such as home delivery. This suggests that many small businesses are going the extra mile to adapt and innovate.

Despite these early signs of business resilience however, the new research continues to underline the unprecedented strain on the nation’s 5.8 million small businesses. Over half (56 per cent) stated they expect at least a 50 per cent fall in profits this year, as a result of the crisis, and 50 per cent said they lack business confidence. The research also revealed that 20 per cent of small businesses feel they need mental health support to help them through this difficult time.

The survey results do represent a slight improvement in the mood amongst small businesses since the beginning of the pandemic, as many adjust and adapt their operating models. Earlier in the crisis, a similar piece of research by Small Business Britain showed a starker picture, with 69 per cent of small businesses saying they expected profits to halve and 66 per cent reporting they lacked confidence. Now, almost a third (28 per cent) say they feel confident, while 8 per cent actually expect to see revenues rise.

Michelle Ovens MBE, Founder of Small Business Britain said:

“The UK’s small businesses are facing an incredibly tough situation, but we are seeing many come back fighting, adapting and showing just how resilient and entrepreneurial they can be. While there is clearly a marathon ahead, and the outlook remains very worrying, our new data shows glimmers of hope. We are seeing a slight calming down of panic, a reduction in expected impact, and confidence picking up very slowly. This is likely in response to the support shown by the Government and other forms of business support. It is vital that more small businesses reach out for the help available, as this will guide them through the challenges ahead.”

The new data comes on the back of Small Business Britain’s new campaign – ‘The Big Support’- supported by BT, Government and businesses across the private sector. The campaign aims to amplify the help available for small firms and ensure they understand and can access support mechanisms, alongside opening up the conversation around the mental health challenges many are facing.

Organisations supporting the campaign have stepped up their efforts to support small businesses, such as BT Skills for Tomorrow programme, which provides free digital skills training to millions of people across the country, and Enterprise Nation, a community of small businesses sharing resources, expertise, and connections.

Chris Sims, Managing Director of Commercial and Marketing, at BT said:

“We are proud to be working with Small Business Britain on ‘The Big Support’ campaign to help our nation’s small businesses to manage their way through this pandemic. With a third of businesses adapting by moving online, it is clear that small businesses need to make the most of technology to navigate through these challenging times. Our free Skills for Tomorrow programme offers advice on subjects such as remote working tools, staying connected with customers and innovation principles to navigate through a crisis. Through BT Skills for Tomorrow and by working closely with our small business customers, we’ll continue to listen to the needs of small businesses to help support them at this difficult time.”