Small business owners plan for growth, post-pandemic economy

Financial positions are the same or better than pre-pandemic.

As the pandemic progresses, a recent Capital One Business survey focused on better understanding how small business owners anticipate a post-COVID-19 economy. Morning Consult conducted this survey in June 2021 among 1,150 owners with less than $20 million in annual revenue. 

Financial positions are the same or better than pre-pandemic

The majority of small businesses surveyed are optimistic that they’ll return to their pre-pandemic financial positions. Many owners, especially millennials, anticipate an even larger comeback. According to this survey, 72% report that their business’s financial position is the same or better than before the pandemic—a 19% increase compared to December 2020 (53%).

Most business owners expect business conditions in their area to improve by the fall

As reopening plans across the country differ, some communities are mostly “back-to-normal,” while others are dealing with stricter guidelines such as vaccination and mask requirements. However, 73% of owners expect business conditions in their area to improve by the fall.

There’s confidence that businesses will return to pre-pandemic operations and revenue

Since the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic, many companies have adapted to changes in customer behavior, such as increases in online shopping, curbside pickup and virtual experiences. While some owners have changed their operating models to meet new customer behaviors and business conditions, 68% are confident that their business will return to pre-pandemic operations and revenues (compared to 67% in December 2020).

Almost all businesses are confident that they’ll still be operating by year-end

According to the survey, 94% of business owners (compared to 85% in December 2020) are confident that they will still be operating in Q4 of 2021. With 18 months of navigating the pandemic behind them, it makes sense that most are confident that they will still be operating through the end of the year. 

The majority of owners plan to grow their business

Since the economy took a critical hit at the beginning of the pandemic, there has been a vast economic recovery unlike any other in recent history. While many are still experiencing supply chain issues and working against hiring shortages, by Q4 of 2021, a majority of business owners (66%) have plans to grow their business. Many plans may include virtual offerings, such as online retail. 

Many businesses expect their sales to increase in the next six months

According to those polled, 68% of business owners expect sales to increase through Q4 of 2021. This is correlated with the recent economic recovery, as jobs are plentiful and pay is high, giving consumers more spending power than the past six months. 

Priorities after the pandemic have shifted

As small businesses face a variety of new challenges in the markets, business owners have begun to shift priorities in response to the global pandemic.

Attracting new customers

Among those surveyed, 44% identified attracting new customers as a priority moving forward since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses have adapted to using increased marketing and the use of social media to reach new audiences. More than a third of business owners (38%) report increased use of social media to help their business survive the pandemic in the past six months.

Improving cash flow

Among polled business owners, 32% indicated that improving cash flow was the primary goal for their company in the near future. Maintaining a forecast of expected cash flow can help business owners avoid any potential issues. Learn more about managing your cash flow for your business.

Keeping businesses going at a steady rate

The third-highest priority for small businesses was keeping their business going at a steady rate, with 28% of participants indicating this as a high priority over the next five years. Investing in new technologies is an important way to not only maintain customers but also to ensure business continuity and the development of new products and services.

Next steps & tips for small business owners

As COVID-19 variants become more widespread and the situation continues to remain in flux, it’s important to stay agile and adapt to current business conditions. Consider investing in virtual payment systems, virtual retail, and offering contactless products and options for customers in order to remain competitive in the market.

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