Small businesses innovate to keep going through pandemic

Fifth of small firms in Scotland have adopted new digital technologies since the coronavirus outbreak started.

Small businesses innovate to keep going through pandemic Pixabay

A fifth of small businesses in Scotland have adopted new digital technologies during the coronavirus pandemic, according to new research.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) surveyed 758 companies in Scotland between April 22 and 30 at the height of measures put in place to curb the Covid-19 outbreak.

It found around one in seven (15%) firms had either started selling online for the first time or expanded their online offering during lockdown measures.

One in 20 (5%) said the pandemic has led to them introducing new services and 8% have introduced new products.

Previous research found 53% of firms in Scotland have been forced to temporarily close since the Covid-19 outbreak began, compared to just over four in 10 (41%) across the UK.

Andrew McRae, FSB’s Scotland policy chairman, said: “Half of Scotland’s smaller firms had to close during this crisis, either because of the Government restrictions imposed to tackle the virus or because their customer base completely dried up.

“But of the remainder, we see an impressive level of innovation and drive to keep sales and operations going.

“We’ve seen everyone from micro-breweries to local shops switch to home deliveries.

“We’ve seen yoga instructors offering remote classes and office-based firms embrace technology to stay in business.

“With silver linings in short supply during this difficult period, we must help firms build on this digital momentum.”

The new report from the FSB – Finding our Feet: Small Businesses and the Coronavirus Outbreak – suggests reopening childcare will be key to getting the wider economy back on its feet.

It also recognises some private facilities such as nurseries will need funding to support their compliance with new public health guidance.

Mr McRae said: “As we look toward lockdown measures easing, many parents will be having sleepless nights about how they’re going to balance looking after their children with their other responsibilities.

“While Scottish small employers will offer flexibility wherever possible, the wider solution is to get schools and childcare providers up and running as soon as it safe to do so.”

He added: “Private nurseries play a key role in the provision of childcare and their services are going to be important not only as we reopen the economy but as the country looks to increase the availability of early years provision.

“But these locally important organisations now face tough restrictions about how they can operate.

“Local government and ministers in Edinburgh need to help these smaller businesses – who play such a key role in their community – reopen safely as soon as possible, providing financial support if necessary.”

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