Small businesses thinking big after Covid clobbering

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More than two thirds of small businesses expect to grow this year. And re-energised firms are recovering faster – as expansion outstrips rivals in France and Germany. Small and medium-sized businesses are the heartbeat of the economy, representing 61 percent of UK jobs and 52 percent of national income.

Analysis from accounting technology firm Sage shows they are not just surviving but thriving, despite doomsayers’ gloomy predictions about the impact of Brexit and Covid-19.

The removal of pandemic restrictions has left 68 percent forecasting growth this year compared with 57 percent in Germany and 62 percent in France.

And 43 percent of UK firms expect a revenue rise in the next six months compared with 39 percent in France and Germany.

We need to understand what industry wants and needs to grow

Bosses also expect see an end to import and export problems this year, Half back issues easing, against just 27 percent who fear they will get worse.

The UK remains the ninth largest manufacturing nation in the world, with annual output of £192billion.

One third of German small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) said Covid-related issues were still the biggest threat they faced, compared with just one quarter of British businesses. Analysis by the Manufacturing Growth Programme [MGP] found three quarters of SMEs said supply chain investment would make them more profitable.

Dean Barnes, regional director of the MGP, said: “We need to understand what industry wants and needs to grow.”

Comment by Steve Hare

COMPANIES worldwide have faced strong headwinds over the last two years. But our research shows British businesses are bouncing back, harder and faster. At Sage, we support thousands of firms leading the fight back.


We’ve witnessed their “can do” attitude and enterprising spirit. Our research shows this has given them the strength to emerge from the pandemic with greater resilience and more confidence.

The UK’s start-up culture is second to none. The number of people who launched a business in the pandemic demonstrates our deep-rooted entrepreneurial spirit. It also shows an ability to look at different ways of working or pivoting into new areas; from the barber who became a coffee seller, to the pop-up restaurants that offered takeaways.

Nowhere was that more evident than in the switch to digital.

Firms that never considered going digital, changed their approach. We’ve made a decade’s progress in just two years and this investment will benefit these companies for years to come.

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The confidence of the five million small businesses that are the backbone of our economy is remarkable and our research shows it is not something echoed as loudly across the Continent.

As a nation, we are blessed with a dynamic labour market, which means businesses were able to take advantage of schemes like furlough and Help to Grow.

This gave them the support they needed to navigate difficult times and, as we emerge from Covid, to look to the future positively.

However, we must not mistake small business resilience for invisibility. The road ahead carries new threats in the form of rising costs and inflation rates. This is affecting businesses worldwide.

Our economic recovery depends on the success and survival of British businesses.


The Government can’t afford to overlook their importance. Small and mid-sized firms must be front and centre of decision making.

There is a bumpy road ahead, but our businesses will tackle it with a strong sense of confidence, even more so if they see the Government is by their side.

• Steve Hare is the chief executive officer of the Sage Group

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