Some light amongst all the gloom according to research from digital bank Starling and the Great British Entrepreneur Awards (GBEA), as a survey reports that 80% of UK SMEs are confident they will recover from Covid despite gloomy economic forecast.

The survey of more than 300 UK SMEs across a range of sectors also found that two thirds (68%) of the business owners questioned believe they will return to pre-Covid levels or better by 2021.

Despite last week’s warning from the Chancellor Rishi Sunak of hard economic times ahead, the findings suggest that many SMEs are feeling positive about the future and their ability to bounce back. Their outlook also appears to be improving as lockdown continues to ease, with three quarters of business owners saying they feel more confident than they did a month ago. This rising confidence, misplaced or not, is something we’ve noted here at Caspia as well. In the last month or so, the level of new business enquiries from UK business owners wanting help with marketing and business development has more than trebled. And these re not just cries for help – these business owners are prepared to invest. When talking to them, the overriding attitude seems to be : “We’ve had a crap start to 2020 and a miserable few months, but we’re not just going to lie down and give up – now we’re going to really push hard to try to get the business back on its feet and growing again”.

One factor potentially playing a part in this sentiment is the adaptability of SMEs, with nearly two in five firms changing their line of business to survive the impact of the pandemic. Of this group, many have shifted their business model by going online, prioritising digital products and setting up delivery services. One farmer even demonstrated their entrepreneurial flair by setting up a ‘Goats for Zoom calls’ service which allowed customers to ‘hire’ goats to appear in their work video calls. It has raked in more than £20,000. What a great idea. I want one.

However, there is no doubt that Covid-19 has been a deeply worrying time for SMEs. One in five business owners said they have considered closing as a result of the pandemic and nearly two thirds have seen a decline in revenue, with 19% making no profit at all during lockdown.

The research also shows that many business owners have had to make tough decisions during the crisis, with a third using their own money to keep the business afloat and a similar number being forced to furlough staff. More than a fifth are not confident they can pay their bills each month.

It’s clear that these pressures are taking their toll on business owners, with two thirds saying their mental health has also suffered as a result of the pandemic impacting their business.

If any business owners out there would like a free, no strings, no obligation consultation on business development and marketing as we move forward after the summer, give Pam a call or email her – contact details here.