3 reasons why small business will emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever

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3 reasons why small business will emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever
The COVID-19 crisis has exposed vulnerabilities but also provided opportunities to review and rethink processes.
Photo by Adeolu Eletu on Unsplash

Small businesses have had a lot to deal with during the past couple of years.

There's been rapid and frequent changes to regulatory requirements causing a great deal of uncertainty and high levels of anxiety.

But local community support has been a bright spot for many owners and operators during this difficult time. And as vaccination targets continue to be met, there are reasons to believe the worst is behind us.

This is reflected in small business sentiment. Our latest Back to Business research shows the majority (81 per cent) are confident they will be back to pre-pandemic levels within the next six months. Here are three trends we expect to play an important role in shaping the road to recovery:

Health over wealth

The pandemic has been an unwelcome but important reminder of just how much health matters to us individually and as a society. Right now, almost half of Australian small business owners and operators (47 per cent) say mandating vaccines and supporting vaccination efforts should be the number one government priority.

It’s a similar story when we asked what support they would like to see from their local community, with more than half (55 per cent) requesting that people get vaccinated above all else. Returning to favourite small businesses as restrictions ease was a close second (51 per cent).

The research shows that small businesses are prioritising mental wellbeing and health, with 58 per cent saying this and work-life balance were their most important focuses. As well as being the right thing to do, many business owners and operators have also realised its positive impact on productivity.

Digital acceleration

Many small businesses had to quickly rethink customer experiences and accelerate the integration of digital solutions during the pandemic. For retail and hospitality, this involved creating a seamless e-commerce experience and letting customers do everything online, from browsing through to managing returns.

More than one in three small businesses explored new revenue streams during the pandemic (37 per cent), with most saying these will continue to be an essential part of their business (85 per cent).

They also adopted new ways of managing core processes. Among those implementing new technologies or planning to do so, the most common focuses are finance (43 per cent), e-commerce/marketing (41 per cent) and inventory management (21 per cent).

Small businesses led by women were more likely to introduce or plan to introduce new technology to improve processes (49 per cent vs 39 per cent). They were also more likely to complete training related to their business during the pandemic or plan to in the next six months (43 per cent vs 31 per cent).

They were significantly more likely to invest in social media (34 per cent vs 22 per cent) and to see social media support from consumers as a crucial driver of future success (30 per cent vs 19 per cent).

Trusted advisors

Accountants and bookkeepers continue to play a critical support role, with 70 per cent of small business owners and operators saying their financial advisor helped them through the pandemic. One in five admit their business would not have survived without that support.

Advisors will play a primary role in future success. More than eight in 10 (84 per cent) small businesses say their support will be crucial in getting back to pre-pandemic levels. With conditions starting to improve as we approach the end of the year, now is the perfect time to seek the financial guidance your small business needs to ensure a bright future.

The COVID-19 crisis has exposed vulnerabilities, but it has also provided opportunities to review and rethink processes. Enforced change is tough but many small businesses have emerged from the pandemic experience more resilient, more productive, and better able to serve their customers.

Lars Leber is VP and Country Manager, Intuit QuickBooks Australia.

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