As we prepare to turn the page on 2020 we reflect on the year with the nation’s business owners. The good news? Despite the unprecedented turbulence and ongoing economic uncertainty, there have been clear signs of resilience and innovation.
Following many months of business predictions, projections and promises of bounce-backs around every corner, what was the reality for UK businesses? We saw many sectors devastated by the crisis, finding themselves held back. But, anecdotally, it seemed others were finding ways to adapt, to overcome the hurdles presented during these difficult times.
To discover the reality, we decided to speak directly to those on the ground. In a recent survey, we asked businesses throughout the UK how they were able to navigate through the crisis brought on by Covid-19, and what their learnings were. The findings bring a welcomed degree of reassurance and hope to the industry.
70% of UK businesses have either remained stable or flourished in 2020 and two in three are optimistic about the future.
Through our recent research, we discovered that 1 in 5 businesses have innovated their offering in response to the crisis and that 45% are currently considering investments in new or improved products and/or services. This matters not only to our industry and other businesses who can learn from this, but to the wider economy and its future.
The even bigger news is that 70% of businesses stated that they remained stable or flourished in 2020 and, when asked to comment on their current outlook, the vast majority answered with a reassuring level of optimism; “Business has grown in the past few months and continues to do so”; “Emerged from the pandemic with a greater focus on what is important to make the business grow”; “Optimistic outlook for 2021 and increased profitability from investments.”
Turning obstacles into opportunities has been a skill borne out of this crisis for many business owners. There has also been a great deal of strength and resilience on display, with some even able to turn the onslaught of challenges into something constructive.
Our research reflects this as the majority of businesses exhibited stability or growth during lockdown. Despite a fifth making significant cutbacks and a third temporarily ceasing trading, 1 in 5 actually innovated their offerings and 1 in 3 continued trading as normal.
Perhaps due to the unprecedented nature of what was happening, the first lockdown resulted in a halting effect for some. As a result, some businesses held back and took stock of their situation before moving forward.
By the time we were entering the next lockdown, businesses weren’t prepared to delay their plans any longer and revealed that they felt more equipped to tackle the challenges in front of them. Our survey revealed that 81% felt better prepared second time around, and 1 in 3 felt that the impact would be less detrimental.
Despite a residual degree of uncertainty, business leaders report feeling hopeful and positive as they near the end of 2020. Results reveal 45% continue to have plans to make investments in new products or services. Included in the most sought-after areas for investment were new equipment (13%), marketing (13%) and / or in operational and technological advancements (11%).
66% of those surveyed said their business would survive economic uncertainty, with only 4% believing they may not.
61% feel now is a good time to invest, with only 15% believing the opposite. Additionally, 45% state they’re considering investments in new, improved products or services.
58% of those surveyed are using existing cashflow to remain buoyant, while 39% are using BBL or CBILS. 23% are using an existing alternative finance provider or looking for one, and just 6% are receiving funding through banks.
Sentiments revealed in the survey included responses such as; “Challenging, but ready to grow”; and “Cautiously optimistic.” Overall, it seems there is a clear trend of cautious optimism across the board, and always a degree of hope.
Rising To The Challenge
Before this year, never had there been a more time-critical call to arms for funders, to ensure businesses received the lifelines they needed - not only for survival but for growth. In 2020, Time Finance rose to the challenge.
As national lockdowns were enforced, stability and security were at the forefront of every business owner’s mind. Whilst remaining open for business themselves, we worked on a case-by-case basis to issue over £30million in forbearance; ensuring businesses received the right level of support.
After riding out the initial wave, and seeing the pandemic continuing, businesses threw themselves into innovation as the need for investment and growth intensified. In response, we designed and launched a new payment structure across our leasing solution: ‘Low Start’.
Low Start enables businesses to secure finance for investing in vital equipment - in an affordable way - which will prove invaluable far beyond the Covid-19 crisis. Becoming an accredited CBILS lending partner in May also greatly expanded the support we could provide, and helped many businesses to access the cash they so urgently needed.
No Better Time For Finance
Businesses need to feel confident about their financing, not only to support where they are now but to secure their future.
Earlier this year, we supported fashion and textile manufacturer, LS Manufacturing, with a £400,000 invoice finance facility enabling them to manufacture essential personal protective equipment (PPE) for the NHS as lockdown hit.
Armed with a warehouse and team with expertise in designing and producing luxury clothing for the high-street, the firm switched its operations to solely manufacturing textiles for the NHS. From non-surgical gowns and protective headwear for frontline staff to cubicle curtains for local NHS trusts, LS Manufacturing quickly became an essential provider to the NHS.
Daljit Mehat, director at LS Manufacturing, commented: “In the face of this global pandemic, we’re proud to have a dedicated team on board who can produce urgently required protective equipment and help safeguard medical professionals. Our funding facility with Time Finance has been fundamental in supporting the ongoing cashflow requirements to produce these garments.”
Supporting your growth with Time
At Time Finance we provide funding solutions that give businesses the confidence and freedom to achieve their business goals. Running a business can be challenging, so we bring solutions delivered with expertise, flexibility and a service you’ll love. To find out how we can help, get in touch with a member of our team today.
* A survey of 200 UK business owners carried out in November 2020.