The COVID-19 outbreak changed the entire business landscape. Small business owners who face stress, financial pain, and challenges of the long road ahead are now facing uncertainty.
With this in mind, the Bizit research team approached small business owners, founders and managers and asked questions about the state of their business, clients, and what their problems and strategies are, in order to support their small business after 3 months of COVID-19 pandemic.
We surveyed 1,876 small business owners (owners, founders, managers or chief executives) across all 50 states to understand how they’re adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic, what they find challenging and what’s working well.
We want to share with you the key insights and learnings we gathered.
The Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Small Business From March to-Date
63% of the participants responded that the pandemic had a negative impact on their small business which resulted decrease in demand.
Of small business that experienced decrease in revenue, 48% report revenue losses of 10%-35%, 39% of small business owners report revenue losses of above 35% and 13% reported that they lost their entire revenue.
What adjustments have you had to make to adapt your operations to business conditions?
Of the nearly 2,000 small business owners we surveyed between May25-29, 44% of small business owners reported that they had to close their physical location and work remotely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 12% reported that they reformatted their physical space or retrained employees to meet social distancing guidelines. 11% ceased operations temporarily and 7% invested to take advantage of new business opportunities that lie ahead.
Among those who responded that employees worked from home, large part of the participants noted that productivity and communication took a hit when employees are new to working from home. Daily check-ins and proactive video calls worked to get all the business messages across and have everyone aligned. Those who’ve been working from home for over a month reported that the they have found tools and strategies to boost collaboration and work satisfaction.
What financial adjustments have you made to navigate your current business conditions?
According to the survey, 70% of small business applied for PPP loan. 50% of the small business owners indicated that they re-negotiated terms or delayed paying suppliers/vendors.
How many weeks of expenses do you currently have cash on hand for?
12% of the participants responded that they have enough cash to keep the business going for up to 4 weeks. 19% responded that they have enough cash to run the business between 1-3 months and 20% responded that they can keep the business running for additional 6 months without making any changes.
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We’ve asked small business owners what are their key financing needs at this time?
The majority of the responses (62%) highlighted that funding fixed costs is the most crucial factor they fact while keeping the business running during the pandemic.
Searching for Working Capital
While searching for working capital, 68% of SMB managers responded that the speed to receive the funds is the most important factor for their decision. Interest rates are the 2nd factor that business managers take into consideration and past relationship with the lender is the less important factor.
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SBA Loan through the Paycheck Protection Program
We’ve asked the small business owners and mangers if they are familiar with the SBA Loan through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
72% responded that they were familiar with the Paycheck Protection Program and 28% responded that they are not familiar with the PPP.
We’ve also asked the small business owners and managers if they were approved for an SBA Loan through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), what is the funding amount that they were approved for?
The table below reflect the loan amount that the responding small business applied for through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
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Our final question with respect to PPP loans was – If you received PPP funding, how are you planning to manage the eligibility requirements for PPP loan forgiveness?
49% of the respondents replied that they meet the requirements and plan to apply for loan forgiveness
Planning for Re-opening and the Future
How Long Will it Take to Recover?
We’ve asked the participants – For the next 2 months, what is their revenue outlook relative to pre-pandemic levels?
8% responded that they foresee the same level of revenue. 54% responded that they believe that revenue will increase. 28% responded that revenue will be up to 25% lower and 6% believe that it will be up to 50% lower.
We asked the participants how long do they expect it will take for business to return to normal?
8% of the small busines owners and managers responded that they believe that it will take up to 1 month. 24% responded that it will take 1-3 months to return to normal, 28% responded that it will take 3-6 months and 40% believe that it will take more than 6 months.
Another interesting thing that is related to reopening the business reflect the changes that small business owners plan to take.
Currently nobody can predict with confidence how the COVID-19 crisis will unfold. The financial crisis 2008/2009 has shown, companies that deployed sustainable cost reduction programs significantly outperformed the competition. During the past 2 months most manufacturing firms have reacted remarkably quickly and adjusted to the new levels of demand. 71% of the small business owners say that they will keep inventory at the same levels.
The COVID-19 pandemic is having a catastrophic effect on staffing. Large reductions are foreseen globally. 59% of the small business owners who took the survey reported that they laid of employees.
According to our survey, the pandemic has led to an immediate drop in advertising spending and ad spends are down 12% on average. 72% of the respondents said that they plan to maintain advertising spend levels as pre pandemic level and 6% said that they plan to increase this spend.
While managers and small business owners can navigate the ship and reduce the variable costs, it seems that most of them find it hard to adjust to the new situation and reduce the fixed costs. According to our survey, 83% plan to keep the fixed costs.
Adoption of Technology Tools:
The coronavirus pandemic is accelerating some market trends that had already taken root before the outbreak. The tech industry is already a major driver of economic growth. The telco fore example seen more Americans use collaboration apps on their phones, with Zoom, Webex and Microsoft Teams experiencing spike. 18% of small business owners plan to increase the adoption of technology tools as result of the pandemic.
Which of these services do you feel is most crucial to help your business succeed in the foreseeable future?
63% of the small business owners who responded to the survey stated that tracking expenses and cash flow is the most important aspect to help their business success in the near future. 38% responded that setting aside savings for a rainy day is one of the biggest lessons that they took from this challenging period.
We’ve also asked the small business owners – If your physical location has been closed, when do you expect to be able to reopen?
According to our survey 54% already opened their business and 14% plan to re-open by July 1st.
In assessing what comes next for your business, what sources of information have you relied on?
The COVID-19 pandemic caught the entire world unprepared. Small-business owners have been struggling through trying to keep their business alive and kicking despite the drop in revenue. According to our survey, if the COVID-19 crisis continues, 12 percent said their businesses could not last another month and 39 percent said they might fold within six months. We hope that the government will continue to support small business and that we will not see fewer mom-and-pop shops in the future.