Enterprise Nation research: Small businesses showing signs of planning for the future

Enterprise Nation research: Small businesses showing signs of planning for the future
Lizzie Slee

Posted: Thu 23rd Apr 2020

Small businesses are showing signs that they are ready to start to plan for the future, new research by Enterprise Nation has revealed.

The pulse survey found nearly a fifth (19%) said they were already developing future strategy with more than half (53%) saying they felt they would soon be in a stable position to work on building business capability and core skills.

While 83% said they were still working to finalise the finances to take them through the coronavirus pandemic, 63% said they wanted to develop increased online capability such as e-commerce. Another 60% said they were planning to diversify their business so they could easily pivot.

'Entrepreneurs are by their nature resilient'

Emma Jones, founder Enterprise Nation, said: "These are incredibly difficult times. Small businesses have had to hunker down and adapt to the new world we find ourselves in.

"While the majority are still waiting for financial packages to be resolved, it's good to hear that so many are thinking beyond what's happening today and planning, and in many cases pivoting, their business model.

"Entrepreneurs are by their nature resilient and many have already survived difficult circumstances.  The fact they are planning to increase skills ready for the end of lockdown suggests they are being positive and expecting the business to survive and custom to return."

The survey, which was conducted last week amongst 500+ small limited company owners and self-employed individuals, found the top skills sets founders planned to work on were marketing and sales (52%), social media (37%), researching new markets (28%) and expanding peer networks (16%).

While 84% said they were open to broadening and diversifying the business to avoid future crises, including adding more online services and potentially developing different new services, just 19% said they would consider protecting their income via insurance.

Business sectors in the survey included business services, creative and media, fashion, food and drink operators.

Bristol-based food delivery service Office Pantry saw its customer base plummet on lockdown. It quickly rebuilt its website capability in four days to allow it to accept home delivery orders on a huge scale.

Co-founder Giles Mitchell said: "We got a home delivery service up and running in 24 hours, with people calling in to make orders from a menu on the website.

"While that was going on, we were building the Home Pantry webpage. It was workable in four to five days and plugged into our back office system. Opening the floodgates means you have to be able to cope with managing stock and deliveries."

The pivot to home deliveries rapidly changed the processes staff used. Drivers had to get used to routes changing every day and working different hours. Packers had to be aware it wasn't business as usual so there was a management shift that also had to happen. They also had to quickly learn to market to a different audience.

Lizzie Slee
Head of media for Enterprise Nation and working to get issues and the positive stories in front of the media.

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