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How are small businesses reacting to the pandemic?

08 Oct 2020
Iris Meijer

Iris Meijer

Chief Marketing Officer,
Vodafone Business

Being ready to adapt and think on your feet has always been vital for small and medium-sized businesses. And it is also a key characteristic of a ‘future ready’ business.

That is why we weren’t surprised that The Vodafone Business Future Ready Report found nearly a fifth of SMEs are already ‘future ready’ (22%). A similar proportion to that of their larger counterparts (21%).

What does this mean?

It means they are confident and well-prepared for emerging challenges, trends and opportunities.

The crisis has certainly tested this. We’re looking at how ‘future ready’ SMEs have fared so far in comparison to their peers and are sharing the ways in which all businesses can build their resilience and prepare for success moving forward.

Preparing for uncertainty

Reacting quickly to change is a hallmark of a ‘future ready’ business.

In fact, 17% of businesses outside the ‘future ready’ category didn’t have any disaster recovery plan in place at all.

And although no one could predict the pandemic, those recovery plans have turned out to be crucial with 85% of ‘future ready’ SMEs saying they worked well during the pandemic.

This means they’ve seen fewer negative impacts from the global crisis.

For example, 29% of these businesses actually reported an increase in their profits compared to the same period in previous years.

Being more financially stable meant ‘future ready’ SMEs were able to focus on other priorities, such as employee’s health and wellbeing, and even long-term objectives too like innovation, sustainability and digital transformation.

A third of ‘future ready’ small and medium businesses have been able to dedicate time to supporting their communities (30%).

Helping others is something we’ve seen larger organisations focus on too during the pandemic but for SMEs, maintaining strong relationships with those in the communities they serve could make the difference in the months ahead.

Building digital resilience

Another similarity is that social distancing has seen businesses of all sizes, no matter their head count, turn to technology to combat the impact of COVID-19.

Technology is viewed by many organisations as a way to build their resilience.

In fact, a third of the small and medium enterprises (34%) that aren’t in the ‘future ready’ category say they are investing in technology because the crisis has revealed weaknesses in their business model.

Importantly, ‘future ready’ businesses are more likely to be adopting flexible technologies such as cloud and online storage (30%). This will not only help them now but also in the future, when they’ll be able to adjust quickly to changing needs, such as flexible working patterns or scaling the business.

Looking to the future

It is this mindset and company culture that appears to have made a big difference to the resilience – and the success – of businesses during the pandemic.

Because although the circumstances have changed dramatically and will continue to do so, adaptability remains a vital trait for small business success.

Whether you're already a ‘future ready’ business or on the path towards being one, there’s never been a better time to take a step back, build on your strengths and experiment to not only survive, but thrive.

To learn more about what businesses are doing to build resilience or to understand more about how ‘future ready’ businesses are approaching things differently, read the full Vodafone Business Future Ready Report 2020.

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