All businesses have had to adapt in some way during the pandemic. This has been easy for some but difficult for others.
Surprisingly, reports show that SMEs and small businesses have been the most successful at navigating through these changing and challenging times. Fast and strategic thinking has been key for their survival.
So what has changed this last year?
Increase in Online Sales
We have seen many retailers make the move online. With the loss in footfall due to closures and social distancing, shifting their business model to include online shopping has meant they have been able to continue trading throughout lockdown and in some cases have exceeded their revenue targets. Some have been businesses who would only normally have benefited from local sales but are now feeling the benefit of being able to sell their products to customers located all over the country, even globally.
We should note that it hasn’t been without its costs. Retailers have had to implement provisions for online shopping, in some cases from scratch, but thankfully the additional revenue has more than covered the investment.
Another change we have seen is the move to remote working. This has been game-changing from some businesses who have seen reductions in overheads, in particular office costs and travel expenses. There have been increases in efficiency for some as commute times and office distractions have been eliminated.
Employees have benefited from the flexibility of working from home. This does not necessarily mean that going forward businesses will be 100% remote working, it would appear that a new hybrid way of working will be most commonly seen; Giving employees the chance to choose whether to work from home or return to the office, or have a flexible approach of splitting their week between the two.
This shift has been easier for small businesses to navigate largely due to them being in a position to set their employees up quickly at home with often very little costs attached.
Of course, there are sectors that would find it impossible to set up remotely but they have still managed to implement safe working practices and social distancing measures to ensure their employees remain safe whilst coming into work.
There has been a real shift in businesses focusing on the wellbeing of their employees. The pandemic has affected people in different ways, some have adapted well to the new way of working whilst others have struggled without the social aspect of being in the office.
SMEs have been able to create wellbeing initiatives to help their employees through what has been a difficult time for most of us. We are thankful to be able to work for employers who care about our well-being both at work and outside of work.
Alongside the move to remote working, there has been an increase in the usage of cloud software, particularly in virtual meeting systems like zoom.
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There has also been an increase in cloud-based accounting systems enabling access to management accounts and financial control from any location. This has driven efficiencies in producing timely and informative reports which have helped businesses spot trends or concerns and act on them appropriately.
During the pandemic there has been a big focus on the environmental challenges we face today. This has seen many people make a move towards buying from local businesses more. We have seen local businesses really blossom during the last year, with many supporting their local communities.
It isn’t just the public who are being more conscientious about the environment, many businesses are now looking to reduce their carbon footprint and assess their supply chains, looking to make them more sustainable and switching to local suppliers where possible.
Businesses should ensure this is a focus going forward as more businesses make the move to becoming more conscious about sustainability and the environment.
Many businesses have seen an increase in staff turnover as we start to come out the of the pandemic. As many businesses have settled for remote working or a hybrid way of working, this has opened the talent pool nationwide for businesses now location is irrelevant for many sectors.
Being in a position to move fast when it comes to hiring has been key for businesses managing recruitment and talent during the last year. We expect this will be a continuing challenge for businesses in 2021. Focus should be on how you are going to retain your existing talent.
The ability to act fast and make quick decisions in this changing environment has been critical to the survival of SMEs. Their agile nature has given them a much bigger chance at adapting than larger companies who will inevitably have more complex management structures and therefore slower decision making.