Challenges Faced by Small Businesses

If your small or medium-sized business was only just starting to find its feet before lockdown, it’s safe to say you’ve probably had a tough year.

Financial support for small businesses eventually arrived in the form of government schemes, but for many of us it’s too little, too late. With UK job vacancies at an all-time high, in this guide we look at the challenges faced by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in 2021 and how to overcome them.

Covid-19

With most of the population being ordered to stay at home for at least some portion of the year, many businesses introduced homeworking. 

Despite 79.9% of businesses intending to use increased homeworking as a permanent strategy, ONS figures showed that 83% of all businesses reported that remote working was not suitable for their business. 

The benefits of homeworking therefore only benefit a minority of companies, and SMEs reliant on bricks and mortar could miss out. Furthermore, small business owners might not even attempt to apply for government assistance due to larger firms being prioritised.

Brexit

Concern has been raised over the barriers faced by businesses losing out to international competitors, and the huge burdens on small firms further exposed how much the Brexit trade deal did not serve SMEs and underdogs in our business economy.

Complaints have also been rife about the raised tariffs recently making it much more expensive for corporations and consumers to import goods from the EU into the UK.

Employee wellbeing

Leaving most people unable to spend time with their friends and family, the knock-on effects of lockdown increased feelings of loneliness and isolation and worsened existing mental health problems. 

Employers need to invest more time and focus on looking after the mental health of their employees: more than 83% of organisations surveyed by CIPD said that they will be committed to this focus and providing more support tailored to individuals’ needs and concerns.

Security challenges

Small and medium-sized businesses might not have the funds to protect their data with a specialist IT team. Even conducting bricks and mortar transactions could pose a risk, with security flaws in Apple Pay payments leaving customers vulnerable to hackers and malicious theft.

Moving on up: how can I build my success back?

It’s more important than ever to protect your business and employees: check your insurance and security measures and make a proactive effort to protect and promote wellbeing.

As a business owner, working with a specialist audit and tax consultant could direct you to the appropriate solution in risk management and advice.

 

Be sure to establish firm local connections with competitors and investors through networking to keep your business known, trusted and relevant.

 

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