Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs are the unsung heroes of many cities around the world. SMEs form the backbone of Europe and the USA too, and their importance to the cultural fabric of our societies has been put to the test during the Covid-19 pandemic.
From the IT service provider working from a spare room in his house, to a freelance photographer, to a wedding planner, a moms-and-pops corner shop to architects, dentists and lawyers, Small to Medium Enterprises have taken strain since March 2020 in these uncertain times of change. SMEs affect some 60 percent of Europe’s workforce and a little more than 65 percent in the USA, while contributing to 60 percent of their regions’ business economies. However, they are less resilient to weather the Covid-19 storms than large corporations and multi-national franchises.
A new word to our daily vocabulary is “lockdown” and the measures set by states to curb the spread of Covid-19 have caused crises in the economy. Bearing the majority of job losses and business closures, SMEs have been working hard to find solutions to the challenges they face.
The business sectors most affected by the lockdowns have been to the service sectors such as restaurants, tourism, hospitality and retail. One of the solutions SMEs have found is to turn to digital and online functions to bring businesses closer to their customers. There has been an unprecedented increase in new services arising and they seem to be that they will remain in the future too.
Using digital processes and technologies, SMEs have been able to develop new ways of doing business and retail sectors have shown the way forward in their adoption of online shopping and deliveries. As lockdown has meant many people were unable to travel to shops, deliveries became a priority. Launching such systems and collaborating with other industries and businesses have seen a number of SMEs able to survive through the Covid-19 measures while still generating revenue.
These times have also shown the importance of financial support infrastructures. Business insurance providers, banking institutions and government stimulus packages have been formulated and rolled out to SMEs. While it might not be considered enough to eradicate the financial impact of Covid-19 on their businesses, it has aided them in lessening job cuts and business interruptions.
Businesses have had to focus on adjusting their risk-taking business practices. Reducing risk is most important for these times. From taking measures for improving health and hygiene for employees and customers, protecting businesses from adverse effects from this time onwards will help their sustainability, and this can be achieved through sound financial education and information.
The aims of SMEs have also been taken up by communities in ever-greater ways. The need for greener services, locally-sourced products, and ethically-derived business has been improved and enhanced by the Covid-19 pandemic’s effects on businesses.
As we know, the consequences of the lockdown on businesses – and on SMEs in particular – are far-reaching for communities, towns and cities. Supporting SMEs isn’t only about its growth and scaling up its business, but it is about building a sustainable future. Their transition from traditional business practices to embracing avenues such as online and digital tools gas ensured they are able to engage in business with their customers. Finding those channels and encouraging customers to support their local favourites has stemmed the damaging effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on economies.