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    How small business owners are adapting to a pandemic stricken market

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    Thirty-one percent of small business owners said embracing new technology helped their business during COVID-19, according to new research.

    The survey of 1,000 small business owners revealed that for 25% of respondents, the pandemic accelerated the adoption of digital tools for their business. While the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on small businesses are far-reaching, results revealed a cautiously optimistic forecast — likely due in part to business owners’ quick thinking.

    The survey found once they’re able to resume business as usual, the average respondent believes the adverse effects of COVID-19 will be negligible within a year. While 57% of respondents said COVID-19 had a “somewhat” or “very” negative impact on their small business, 7% reported a positive impact and 36% reported the pandemic had no impact on their business.

    Commissioned by Melio and conducted by OnePoll, the survey also revealed that many respondents were able to adapt and even evolve during the pandemic, by rethinking the way they operate their businesses. Some respondents said they managed to successfully enable their employees to work from home (23%), digitised the way they get paid by customers (23%) and the way they pay vendors (19%).

    In addition to that, 19% of respondents increased their online advertising/marketing efforts and 17% revamped their business’ website to keep their business on the up and up during the pandemic. Specifically, 21% increased their digital presence through social media, while 22% started selling products online.

    “As a wine director of a restaurant, this time has been great time to explore new systems and new ways to generate revenue,” said Rania Zayyat. Founder, WWOW.

    Interestingly enough, younger small business owners were more likely to have made many of these changes to keep their company afloat.

    Of those aged 26–41, 56% of respondents found ways to enable employees to work from home, while just 17% of those 57+ did the same. In the same vein, 39% of respondents aged 26–41 digitised the way they get paid by customers, compared to 12% of those aged 57+.

    Twenty-seven percent of younger respondents (26–41) said embracing technology helped their business during COVID-19 — a sentiment shared by only 7% of those 57+.

    “If there’s one lesson to be learned from the survey, it’s that many small businesses have faith in their ability to ride out the storm,” said a spokesperson from Melio. “But that’s only true if they’ll learn to think on their feet, and are willing to explore out-of-the-box solutions and the adoption of new technologies.”

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    Hayley Somerscales

    All stories by: Hayley Somerscales