The Great Lockdown & Global Pandemic
By Rebecca Sheppard
A sharp rise in COVID-19 cases has led to a second national lockdown. But to what extent does a national lockdown threaten small businesses?
According to ITC’s COVID-19 Business Impact Survey (2020), 60% of small businesses are struggling to cope with the negative effects of the global pandemic. However, it is much more damaging for SMEs, with 21% of them reporting the risk of shutting down within 3 months.
The question is, why are small businesses most affected by a national lockdown?
Low Levels of Digital Adoption
Well, the first is low levels of digital adoption. A report by The Entrepreneur’s Network (2020) suggests many small firms are failing to adopt the right digital tools. In the UK 38% of small businesses have very low digital adoption, in comparison to Sweden and Netherlands who have 23%. Low levels of digital adoption can mean a firm is lacking basic technological features such as a website and social media presence. Therefore, making it harder for them to adapt from a physical environment to a digital one.
Small businesses who adapt to digital environments easily are most likely to survive a lockdown by continuing to operate their businesses online. Those who have little online presence tend to face a slump in profits, worker lay-offs, and face potential future closure.
Secondly, small companies are likely to have fewer resources such as capacity and cash flow. This hinders them from adapting to significant changes in circumstances, in comparison to larger corporations. For example, 76% of surveyed small firms in the accommodation and food services sector, said that partial and full lockdowns strongly affected their business operations (ITC COVID-19 Business Impact Survey, 2020). This is a result of not having the resources nor capacity to re-manage their operations in a global pandemic environment.
So, in the end, the question is, what can small businesses do to stay afloat in the midst of a global pandemic?
Adapt to a Digital Environment
As surveys and research have shown above, small businesses are more likely to suffer from a decline in productivity and profits without having an online presence. There are many free charities and organisations which have volunteered professionals ready to give small businesses advice and help to transform their business digitally.
Seek Funding Where Possible
It may be possible for small businesses to request government support grants. For example, the UK government’s current Job Support Scheme is being expanded to help small businesses survive lockdown. For other countries, it would be worth checking out your government website for eligibility.
Where government grants are not accessible another option is crowdfunding. This method is solely based on public funding, but it can be a great way to receive extra income during times of a pandemic.
Search for a Good Business Support Organisation
Search for a good business support organisation like us! Here at LSBC, we provide help to small companies and start-ups who are in need of advice. We also offer a supportive network for B2B partnerships in your desired market and exchange of business-related knowledge. Find out more here!
But most importantly what can you do as an individual to help small businesses?
Instead of running to big corporations who are stable and have the resources to deal with the effects of a global pandemic, why not shop local this Christmas? Chances are you’ll find a much more meaningful and unique gift from a smaller business than in a larger corporation.
Raise awareness and support for small businesses on social media using the hashtag: #SupportSmallBusinesses. Help small firms spread the word about their products and services online by helping to advertise their products. It costs £0/0$/0€ to retweet or share a post from a local or small business owner on social media.
2020 has been a testing year for all businesses but has particularly impacted small businesses the most. So, the battle of surviving a nationwide lockdown, the rapid dash to a digital environment, and the great challenge to adapt to changing circumstances. If you are a small business that has been affected by the global pandemic, we can help! Reach out to LSBC and we will support you 🙂
International Trade Centre. (2020). SME competitiveness outlook 2020: COVID-19: The great lockdown and its impact on small business, UN, New York, https://doi.org/10.18356/0b9ac94e-en
The Entrepreneurs Network. (2020, July 9). Make lockdown switch to digital permanent to secure economic recovery. https://www.tenentrepreneurs.org/blog/make-lockdown-switch-to-digital-permanent-to-secure-economic-recovery