17% UK SMEs don’t believe they’ll survive second lockdown
Speaking to over 500 SME owners in the UK, the company also found that 32% believe they’d be impacted worse than the first lockdown but would survive, while 34% felt a second lockdown would have the same impact as the first and 5% believed they would cope better than before.
Other findings from the report included:
- Expectations that it would take 12 to 18 months to recover from the money lost to COVID-19 (24%), while 19% believed it would take six to 12 months, 12% said 18 to 24 months, and 12% said two to three years
- 24% of small businesses believed it would also take six to 12 months for customer number to return, while 14% believed it would take over a year
- 68% of SME owners believed their employee numbers would remain the same, however 21% believe that the numbers would decrease, 13% of which expect it to be significant
- 62% of SME owners feel less confident about their long term prospects
- 25% of SME owners reported that staff have learnt new skills, 21% have found new customers, 19% have adapted new technologies, and 17% have expanded their offerings
- 42% of SMEs are more reliant on technology as a result of COVID, with 47% using messaging apps for business, 33% increasing their use of social media, 36% introducing contactless and online payment methods and 25% starting to use online delivery services
"The first nationwide lockdown had a significant effect on all businesses – from the very largest to the smallest, and this second one could prove fatal for SMEs. Few have been financially harder hit than SMEs, small businesses, and the self-employed, and it’s telling that many have been living in fear of another lockdown and the consequences it would have on their business,” commented Alan Thomas, UK CEO at Simply Business
“However, whilst business owners are innovating, they are still reliant on macro-economic policy. The government has a clear duty to protect public health throughout the pandemic, but it’s obvious that any decisions – whether that’s on fiscal policy, this second lockdown, or packages of financial support – is going to have a huge impact on the rate of recovery for small businesses, and ultimately, the UK economy,” added Thomas.
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.