Tuesday 13 July 2021 11:02 am

Looking on the bright side: Business owners optimistic about pandemic recovery

As Freedom Day approaches, business owners have told City A.M. they are optimistic about the road to recovery, with many believing they make come out stronger as their e-commerce operations have matured as a result of the pandemic.

Almost one in five of small business owners expect their revenues to grow by about 10 per cent in the first six months after lockdown guidelines are completely relaxed, according to new research.

Nearly 40 per cent of business owners said they plan to focus on growing relationships with their customers over the next three years, while a quarter (27 per cent) plan to build consumer trust, according to data from SME platform Xero.

Digital adoption

Digital adoption is also a key area small businesses plan to tap into to drive growth.

40 per cent of retail revenue is now driven from online sales, while a quarter of SMEs have invested in cloud-based technologies such as Dropbox, Slack and Xero to run their businesses in recent months.

Almost a third have removed the use of paper invoices and a quarter have abandoned paper payslips. 

Pip Durrell, co-founder of With Nothing Underneath, is one of those business owners.

“During the pandemic, we were able to deploy new forms of technology throughout the business to help us drive cost efficiencies across our operations and e-commerce platform, the result being that we’ve seen our best results ever in terms of sales and growth over the past 12 months,” Durrell said.

New ways of working

Despite the challenging environment, almost half of SME owners say the new ways of working that they have adopted during the pandemic mean they’re now better set up for the future.

Laura Jackson, Kernel-in-chief, at Popcorn Shed, was forced to make drastic changes overnight.

“The pandemic has brought radical innovation to the domestic market. Our business was forced to make the move online overnight, from consumer-facing online delivery and social media marketing to using digital software behind the scenes,” she said.

“Despite Covid-induced shipping and supply problems, the market has remained buoyant. There was a sustained demand for British gourmet popcorn even during the crisis and we have a new appreciation for the software services that enabled us to keep up with it remotely,” Jackson shared.