Pandemic has fast tracked one in five small businesses online, report shows

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Nearly one in five (17%) UK small businesses chose to move their business online sooner than anticipated due to Coronavirus, a new report had revealed.

The pandemic also instilled a new technological confidence in SME owners with only one in ten reporting that technology risks are their biggest challenge for 2021, down an impressive 11% on last year and 87% said keeping up with technology is not now a major concern for their business.  

Whilst digital advancements and the move to online is one of the few positives to stem from the pandemic, the 2021 Business Challenges report carried out by takepayments Limited does reveal that one in three (29%) business owners still expect their business to close in 2021. 

SME’s within the accountancy, banking and finance were the industry most likely to have fast tracked their business online (30%), followed by those in hospitality and events management (28%).

Virtual and live events is the most popular technological advancement of the pandemic with almost one quarter of SMES offering online webinars, workshops or live streams to continue engaging with customers.

 The most common technological adaptations businesses implemented 

1. Introduced online ‘live experiences’ incl. webinars, live streams, workshops – 23%
2. Actively brought in new technology – 22%
3. Introduced QR code system – 19%
4. Introduced teams, zoom and slack to move meetings online – 16%
5. Introduced card machines – 10%
6. Introduced an online booking service – 9%
7. Started selling on social media – 8%
8. Introduced social media platforms – 5%
9. Went completely cashless – 4%
10. Created a website – 3%


The success of the live stream services for SMEs within the beauty and wellbeing industry made an impact on their business so much so that one quarter (25%) will continue with their live stream services beyond the pandemic.  

SMEs also valued the impact social media has on their business as 15% stated social media helped their business grow and gain new customers. With SMEs across beauty and wellbeing (28%), business, consulting and management (28%) and the performing arts (25%) seeing the greatest benefits of social media.

Sandra Rowley at takepayments limited said: “2020 proved a challenging time for all businesses and unfortunately the uncertainty will continue into this year. However we have light at the end of the tunnel and hopefully life can start to go back to normal following a successful roll out of the vaccine. 

“While the past year has been a struggle, one positive takeaway SMEs have is how the pandemic has led to many fast tracking their business in some way, whether it’s launching an area of the business they wouldn’t have otherwise or simply introducing new technology to help their service adapt to the climate. Businesses can take confidence from knowing how adaptable they have become, which will should give them assurance for whatever may come their way in 2021”.

The full findings of the takepayments 2021 Business Challenges Report is available to view here.