Small business challenges

Business ethics
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When asked which societal challenges were causing them the most distress, more than two thirds (67%) said “future lockdowns”.

Statistics suggest that despite local government schemes and grants keeping vulnerable companies afloat, it might not be enough to ease pressure in any future period of non-trading.


Typically, it would be the business behemoths applying the most pressure to SMEs. But statistics show that community spirit has trumped brand recognition in these testing times, with only 5 percent of companies worried about competition from larger corporations. The businesses they are worried about, however, operate on their front door.

Concerned about competition from local businesses

Concerned about competition from larger corporations


But even with communities banding together to back local businesses, 69 percent of company owners say that they’ve noticed a decrease in consumer spending over the last year.

And with most of the nation stuck indoors for extensive periods, 30 percent fear that the high street could face irreparable damage.

Working week

Statistics suggest that the more challenging times get, the harder businesses work. For many, it’s been an unrelenting year, with two-thirds of staff working longer hours as a direct result of the Pandemic.

Even more worrying is that only 14% plan to work 48-hour weeks or less in the year ahead, compared to 57% in last year's report. The businesses under the most pressure, it seems, work in energy, utilities, engineering, manufacturing, and agriculture — 77 percent of which say they’re more likely to work longer hours.

I worked longer hours in 2020 due to the Pandemic

2021 Stick to a 48-hour working week or less

2020 Stick to a 48-hour working week or less

Epos Systems

Despite this, more than half of all business owners (57%) surveyed said that they prioritise their staff’s health. If companies want to come through 2021 unscathed, they’ll have to balance employee wellbeing with their bottom line — after all, people are business. What’s positive to see is that 43 percent of SMEs are proactively diversifying their workforce talent.

Work-life balance

Working from home might be the norm for 57 percent of employees, but statistics show this affects their downtime. The office is now inextricably linked to living spaces, and, as such, many staff members are working extra hours to save their businesses. As a result, only a third of employees (34%) say they’ll have a good work-life balance in 2021.

2020 – Good work-life balance

2021 – Good work-life balance

Igor Miske Jvsgcv8 Vb4 Unsplash (1)

Outside of the home, it’s the healthcare industry that unsurprisingly expressed the most concern about working long hours (25%), followed by the charity and voluntary sector (23%). More positively, nearly half of people who work in the energy and utility space (47%) said they anticipate a good work-life balance this year.

Rest days  

In last year’s report, 4 out of 5 companies had at least two days’ rest a week, but this year, 72% admitted they didn’t have a least 2 rest days per week, and this can be expected to continue into the pandemic.

2021 - Business owners don’t have at least two rest (non-work) days per week

2020 - Business owners don’t have at least two rest (non-work) days per week

Industries which state a cashless society would negatively impact their business

As we experience further societal changes due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, it’s clear there is a small percentage of businesses who are understandably concerned about how it affects their operations. One of the biggest fears being a cashless society.

Around 1 in 5 companies working predominately in the environmental, hospitality, charity, and beauty spaces said that a move from cash would negatively affect their business. At takepayments, we appreciate that the unknown is scary. But rest assured that we’re here to chat through any of these changes and find an answer that works for you.

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