Small business challenges


Logan Weaver Knzivjrvzta Unsplash

But there is a glimmer of hope.

The pandemic has prompted many businesses to create new revenue streams, outdoor environments, and digitised customer communication.

Hopefully this means that, as we navigate the bookend of the global health crisis, those companies will have the springboard to come out fighting.


The biggest challenges for businesses in 2021

Multiple national lockdowns and local restrictions have led to almost all UK businesses feeling the strain of Coronavirus.

In fact, it’s only the environmental and agricultural sector who stated that they’re more concerned about Brexit (30%) than the global health crisis (21%).

Top Coronavirus concerns

Even still, 77 percent of businesses in the same industry said they had worked longer hours due to the Pandemic. So did three quarters (77%) of those working in utilities and manufacturing.

67 percent of businesses said their most significant challenge for 2021 would be future lockdowns, while 44 percent expressed concern regarding Coronavirus regulations.


Coronavirus restrictions

How the pandemic has strained business owners

As we’ve seen, much of the energy industry had to work longer hours during 2020, but so too have people in marketing, advertising, and PR (73%).

Thankfully, though, more than a third of businesses (36%) have altered their business plan following the pandemic, which means that many have a better chance of adapting to any future restrictions.

I’ve had to change my business plan for 2021 following the Pandemic

I worked longer hours in 2020 due to the Pandemic

Staff decisions faced by businesses last year and concern for more restrictions

The pandemic hasn’t only changed business plans: 40 percent of companies working in the legal sector said they’ve had to let staff go, too.

And even though the furlough scheme is extended to April 2021, nearly a quarter of businesses (24%) stated that they’re worried what support they’ll receive should they have to stop trading due to restrictions.

I had to let staff members go due to the Pandemic

I used the furlough scheme during the Pandemic

I am worried about what support is available if my businesses has to stop trading due to coronavirus restrictions

Industries most worried about what support is available if my business has to stop trading due to Coronavirus restrictions

In 2020, 62 percent of businesses operating in the performing arts sector relied on the state’s furlough scheme — unsurprising given the restrictions to theatres and music venues.

Likewise, 51 percent of hospitality businesses and those working in consulting said they got by only thanks to government subsidies.

Environment and agriculture

Information technology

Performing arts

Business adaptations due to the 2020 pandemic

If there are any positives to take from the pandemic, it’s that new technology and additional revenue streams have given many businesses a much-needed lift.

As the table shows, nearly a quarter of all the companies we spoke to stated that they set up live experiences, webinars, or streaming services.

In turn, 30 percent of hospitality businesses said they would keep all adaptions beyond the Pandemic, as did media (31%) and information research (32%) companies.

Similarly, a quarter of beauty and wellbeing SMEs stated they would continue doing live experiences throughout 2021.

Industries fast-tracked online due to the pandemic

Accountancy, banking and finance

Hospitality and events management

Adaptations from the pandemic into 2021

It’s promising to see that around a third (31%) of all businesses surveyed said they would keep some adaptions beyond the Pandemic, along with another 22 percent who were confident that new ways of working could transcend 2021.

More than 1 in 10 hospitality businesses stated that they moved outdoors or extended areas during 2020, and, of these, 13 percent will continue using them once the Pandemic is over.

Yes I will keep some adaptions beyond the Pandemic (Excluding coronavirus safety regulations)

Yes I will keep all adaptions until the Pandemic is over

Yes I will keep all adaptions beyond the Pandemic (Excluding coronavirus safety regulations)

The most popular adaptions businesses will continue in 2021

Change opening hours

Online ‘live experiences’ incl. webinars, live streams, workshops

A takeaway/delivery service

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