UK and USA SME’s Remain Optimistic Despite Covid-19 Shock

Despite both the UK and US economies shrinking in 2020, on average, 42.5% of US and UK small and mid-sized enterprises (SME) bosses are confident that business can return to normal or even stronger than before in the next six months as their respective countries open back up after months in lockdown. This is according to the most recent Vistage Confidence Index, which explores the business confidence of SME leaders in the US and UK over the second quarter of 2020.

Vistage, a world-leading business performance and leadership advancement organisation for SMEs, has surveyed over 1,500 its business members across the UK and the US to gauge the health of the SMEs across the two economies as they recover from the Covid-19 crisis.

The report found that almost half (48%) of UK respondents are optimistic that the economic conditions will not worsen or will improve in the next 12 months, in comparison to 72% in the US Furthermore, 2 out of 5 UK bosses expect sales to increase in the same period, with a similar number of people (45%) saying the same in the US Around 65% of US firm believe they have enough in the bank to keep afloat until the economy recovers.

Looking to UK Businesses

In the UK, 79% of businesses have admitted to adjusting their strategy in the last quarter in order to withstand the pressures from the coronavirus crisis. With these changes, 2/5 of companies (40%) now expect their business to either return to normal or improve better than before.

The report has also found that 59% of bosses consider working from home a long-term solution for their business. A further 74% are considering increasing the number of flexible working options available in their workplace, including part-time hours and flexible working times.

Additional highlights include:

90% of Vistage members have cash reserves to last 3 months or more, versus 50% for SME UK population, according to the latest British Chambers of Commerce tracker:

  • Only 31% of Vistage’s UK respondents have applied for financial support during the coronavirus
  • 1 in 4 (25%) have not furloughed any staff during the Covid-19 crisis
  • 64% expect to maintain or increase staffing levels
  • 72% of bosses believe they have a robust return to work plan in place
  • The most significant leadership challenges facing UK bosses are Sales (23%), Growth and expansion (21%) and Personnel (18%)
  • 67%  remain concerned about the damage a second wave may have on their business

Geoff Lawrence, Vistage’s UK Managing Director, comments on the findings: “Both UK and US small businesses remain resilient in the face of very strong headwinds from the ongoing Covid-19 and resulting economic crises. The signal from the survey suggests SMEs expect a faster recovery, and they are also far along in their preparations to reopen and to get back to normal as soon as possible.

“Additionally, the Vistage survey tells us that small business leaders are making innovative changes to the way they and their team will work. We anticipate a revolution in flexible working, including working from home, in the next 12 months to help support their workforce as the pandemic unfolds.

“Finally, we are also seeing that many business owners require a lot of support to equip them with the experience and perspective needed to meet this once-in-a-century challenge. It is important that CEOs and MDs recognise there is support out there within their business communities and among peers. For instance, our members have found that having access to the group’s wealth of knowledge and finding the space to collaborate make them all smart decision-makers. That ability will make all the difference during this crisis.”

Vistage is an executive coaching and leadership development organisation where business leaders enhance their leadership skills and solve their most important business challenges. Members meet with their peers in group meetings, facilitated by accomplished, executive-level coaches, to help solve their most complex issues. They receive additional perspectives from expert speakers and a global membership community.