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Looking on the bright side: SMEs optimistic about post-lockdown growth

New data reveals that almost one in five (17%) of small business owners expect their revenues to grow by 10% in the first six months after lockdown guidelines are completely relaxed.

The data released by Xero, the global small business platform, in its Future of Small Business Report found that 39% say they will focus on growing relationships with their customers over the next three years, while a quarter (27%) plan to build consumer trust.

Digital adoption is also a key area small businesses plan to tap into to drive growth according to the findings. 40% of retail revenue is now driven from online sales, while a quarter (26%) of SMEs have invested in cloud-based technologies such as Dropbox, Slack and Xero to run their businesses in recent months. Almost a third (31%) have removed the use of paper invoices and a quarter (26%) have abandoned paper payslips.

Despite the challenging environment, almost half (46%) of SME owners say the new ways of working that they have adopted during the pandemic mean they’re now better set up for the future.

“As we continue making our way out of lockdown, it’s positive to hear many small firms are optimistic about the road ahead,” said Glen Foster, Director, Small Business and Partners at Xero.

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“From adopting digital technologies to focusing on the areas that can set them apart – like customer loyalty and trust – the pandemic has forced new ways of working which are helping SMEs to adapt. But there are still challenges ahead and we all need to work together to support small businesses with the guidance and tools they need to come back strong.”

To drive change, Xero has mapped out some of the support small businesses will require from the government in its Road to Small Business Recovery Report.

Pip Durrell, Co-founder of With Nothing Underneath says:  “During the pandemic, we were able to deploy new forms of technology throughout the business to help us drive cost efficiencies across our operations and E-commerce platform – the result being that we’ve seen our best results ever in terms of sales and growth over the past 12 months. We’ve even been in the fortunate position of growing the team considerably throughout the pandemic due to this success, which we couldn’t have achieved without the help of technology – and we’re looking forward to growing even more as things begin to open up again.”

Laura Jackson, Kernel-in-Chief, at Popcorn Shed says: “The pandemic has brought radical innovation to the domestic market. Our business was forced to make the move online overnight, from consumer-facing online delivery and social media marketing to using digital software behind the scenes – and, despite Covid-induced shipping and supply problems, the market has remained buoyant. There was a sustained demand for British gourmet popcorn even during the crisis – which was testament to the commitment of our customers – and we have a new appreciation for the cloud software services, such as Xero, that enabled us to keep up with it remotely. Looking ahead, we’re optimistic that export numbers will continue to grow.”

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