UK small businesses are adapting to the challenges of the coronavirus crisis; nearly two thirds (65%) have introduced new products or services over the past two months, according to Bionic, the business switching service.
More than two fifths (42%) expect to continue offering these new services or products in the future.
Small businesses have rolled out a range of measures in order to continue trading through the crisis. Nearly two thirds (63%) SMEs have started delivering products directly to customers, with 40% expecting to continue doing so in the future.
Many SMEs have had to prepare for social distancing measures on their business premises. 69% have introduced physical distancing measures for customers, while a similar proportion (68%) have done so for staff. Just under half have provided single use protective items, such as masks and gloves, to employees (47%) and customers (48%).Martin Coles-Evans, owner of Hargreaves of Buxton, a fourth-generation family business, said, “Like everyone, we were blindsided by the impact of the crisis. We have had to shut the shop and café. Thankfully, the financial support offered by the Government through the furlough scheme has kept some of our overheads down. We really had to switch the business overnight to concentrate on our online sales and the local community has really got behind us to support the effort.
“I have had a few sleepless nights juggling finances and working out how we could prepare the shop for our eventual reopening. We have put in place a one-way system around the shop and purchased equipment and supplies to make us Covid Secure to ensure the safety of both our staff and customers.”
Businesses have introduced these measures to continue trading, but confidence in the long-term viability of some SMEs is low. Nearly one fifth (19%) of small business owners are not confident that their business would survive if lockdown restrictions were lifted in a week’s time.
Reacting to the sudden drop in revenue that many businesses are facing, SME owners have taken, or expect to take, the following actions with regards to their cashflow.
Commenting on the research, Paul Galligan, CEO of Bionic, said, “The crisis has forced many SMEs to rapidly adapt in order to survive. Many have rolled out new products, services and delivery capabilities in a matter of days or weeks, in a bid to continue reaching their customers through the lockdown.
“However, many are struggling with the financial impact the crisis has had on their business. SME owners are preparing their employees and premises for trading and cutting unnecessary costs. All of these actions will make them more resilient in the future.”