2020 was an extremely tumultuous year and brought us surprises we could’ve never predicted, hand sanitiser and toilet roll became a commodity, “COVID-19”, “pandemic” and “Quarantine” became part of our everyday vocabulary. We saw what looked like the demise of many industries, (as government lockdowns and covid restrictions hindered the continuous workings of many businesses) from big conglomerates to small family restaurants. It's important to consider the impact the pandemic had on the economy and also how this may impact individuals who wish to start a business in the near future.
The UK economy shrank by a record 19.8% in the second quarter (April to June) of 2020, following the start of the first lockdown on 23 March. By September 2020, GDP was still down 8.2% compared with February, retail sales volume fell by 1.9% compared with 2019, the largest annual fall on record. Everyone was impacted by the pandemic, some gained a few inches on their waistlines whilst others picked up new hobbies or spent hours watching online content, we all felt the impact of Covid and the multiple lockdowns that followed after its breakout. Unsurprisingly small businesses took a very hard blow, a survey by “Simplifying business” found that 67% of businesses were forced to stop trading during the pandemic, 53% struggled to access government support or understand eligibility criteria and 41% feared their business was at risk of permanently closing. Starting a small business is extremely hard and the pandemic didn’t help, however, as lockdown restrictions ease, businesses have started to open up again and the economy has begun to recover which leads to the question, how will businesses recover from this hit.
The British government has set up many loan schemes and grants to help businesses get back on their feet, for example, the Business Recovery Loan Scheme, Restart Grants where the government has set £6 Billion towards a one-off cash grant of up to £18,00 for hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care and gym businesses and many more initiatives like the ones previously mentioned. Many businesses after months of turmoil now have the burden of creating a work environment that adheres to government restriction yet is easily malleable as the guidelines change. To cope with the climate owners of a business had to furlough most of their staff. Instead of laying them off, have decided to manage costs by asking everyone to take some unpaid days off over the summer. Some business owners have had to look internally and access their business plan, determine where their business is heading and how it has been impacted the past year, what goals they want to achieve, the state of their industry, their customers and strategies on how to make their goals a reality so they begin to find stability and eventually economic growth. Whilst some businesses have been able to strategise, apply for loans and begin the journey to recovery some especially small pubs, bars and restaurants have had to fight the battle to keep paying workers, have lost and had to close down. According to new figures, almost 10,000 licensed premises -including, pubs, clubs and restaurants- closed permanently last year as the coronavirus crisis crippled the hospitality sector.
The pandemic undeniably created turbulence for some business owners but this doesn’t mean there isn't hope for those who want to become thriving entrepreneurs and start their own small business. With appropriate market research, the right business plan and investors this is something that you might be able to do. There are a plethora of business ventures that are worth pursuing, according to research the fitness coaching and supplier industry will be extremely profitable as people have become more aware of their health this past decade due to a rise of chronic diseases. Adding to the list of many profitable industries are Courier Services which according to Shopify, retail sales on eCommerce platforms are predicted to reach $4.9 trillion this year. Courier services have big business opportunities as product shipping is a huge concern for eCommerce business owners who want their orders shipped safely and in a timely manner so, creating a good courier business plan, having the essential documents and license and a vehicle to deliver the product will all be essential before starting this extremely profitable business venture. Although many businesses have found success during the pandemic, an equal amount and if not more have seen failure, so it is important to consider the challenges that may arise when starting a business especially during unpredictable times. You’ll have to consider losing money during lockdowns if they occur in the future, closing down your business if it isn't adaptable to the climate and paying for staff, production and rent even when your business isn't running. You'll also have to consider lost family time, no guaranteed income or success and having no one to fall back on, which were already important factors to consider pre-pandemic.
In conclusion, owning a business has never been an easy job and the pandemic put many entrepreneurs in situations they didn’t plan for. Note that it is paramount that planning and research take precedence over everything else when deciding to start a business. Having a strong business plan can potentially save a business when things aren't so stable. Owners cannot control when/ if another pandemic breaks out, however they can control the strategies that are ready to be put in place in the event that something as uncertain as a Global pandemic does occur. Our experts at B&F can guarantee bespoke services such as market research that will help create a solid foundation for aspiring business owners so that they don’t share the same failure many did during the pandemic. Contact us now!