Starling: Two thirds of UK SMEs optimistic about Covid-19 recovery in 2021

Starling: Two thirds of UK SMEs optimistic about Covid-19 recovery in 2021

According to a survey of over 300 UK SMEs conducted by Starling Bank and the Great British Entrepreneur Awards (GBEA), 68% of small to medium-sized businesses believe they will return to pre-Covid levels of success in early 2021.

As lockdowns are eased and concerns about the economy are voiced, Starling and GBEA research suggests that SMEs are feeling positive about their ability to bounce back better with 75% of business owners feeling more confident than they did in July.

The digital bank highlights that adaptability is key as nearly two in five (39%) businesses altered their business line to remain relevant and survive after Covid-19 hit. One example Starling provides is of a farmer who set up ‘Goats for Zoom calls’, which let customers hire goats to appear in conference calls, making more than £20,000.

While many transformed their models by going online, pushing digital products and delivery services, there were many that also considered shuttering their businesses. 63% of SMEs surveyed experienced a decline in revenue, 19% made no profit at all during lockdown, 30% of business owners were forced to use their own money to remain afloat and 33% had to furlough staff.

Alongside this, a staggering 21% stated that they were unable to pay their bills each month and as a result of these combined pressures, 66% felt their mental health has suffered as a result of the coronavirus pandemic making an impact on business.

Anne Boden, founder and CEO of Starling Bank, says: "Small businesses are essential to the nation's efforts to build back the economy as we emerge from the coronavirus crisis. Despite the challenging conditions they face, it's heartening to see that many are proving so adaptable and resilient."

Francesca James, GBEA founder, adds: “In the face of the disruption caused by Covid-19 and the emergence of a radically altered landscape, I’ve been inspired by the innovation, spirit and tenacity of the entrepreneurs we work with in coping with this unprecedented situation. However, it’s been a deeply troubling time for so many SMEs and they need support now more than ever to create the wealth and jobs that are needed over the next few months.”

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