How UK SMEs have the potential to thrive despite increasing restrictions

Boris Johnson has just asked Britain's workforce to work from home where possible in stark contrast to the previous advice to get back to the office as Coronavirus cases increase across the UK and Europe. The news may come as a blow to many small businesses as statistics from Simply Business show that a fifth of UK SMEs do not think they will be able to survive the impact of another lockdown.

For many businesses, however, a second wave and reintroduction of restrictions is unlikely to have the same impact as the first time around. Research from Santander indicates that over half (57%) of SMEs adapted and changed the way they do business as a result of Covid-19. Economic output drastically reduced during the first full month of lockdown in April but has rebounded steadily since that time, with 6.6% growth in July and further growth expected for August. 

The amount of new businesses created has also seen a significant rise in recent months. June saw a record number of business formations with a 47% increase in 2019's figures, while platforms such as eBay reported a 335% increase in new start-ups registered to the site.

Luke Davis, CEO and Founder of IW Capital, discusses how SMEs can survive and thrive through another period of Coronavirus restrictions:

“This has been an incredibly difficult time but small firms have always been the most adaptable and nimble companies in terms of changing their offerings to adapt to market demand. Each seismic shift in societal or economic norms, from the 2008 financial crisis to this pandemic, creates new markets and opportunities. Whether that be in PPE, track and trace tech or online healthcare. 

Many firms have pivoted to increase their online offerings, change their working hours or in some cases their whole business model to cater to new markets and work around restrictions. Innovation will continue and Britain's entrepreneurs will find ways to make their business a success.

Working on Zoom and making introductions online has also allowed small companies to compete with larger rivals in new markets in a lot of cases. Additionally, the lack of huge offices and cumbersome overheads allows businesses to be competitive with the big firms.

Some of the companies we have invested into in the past few months are great examples of this spirit. GDPQ - an online doctor consultation service - has expanded rapidly to help the NHS cope with demand. While another of our investee companies, Transcend Packaging, has pivoted to help produce PPE and has almost doubled their workforce following our investment. ”

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