SMBs Remain Optimistic About Their Post-Covid Futures, More So in the US

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The social network teamed up with the World Bank and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to survey over 150,000 small businesses globally over the past six months and learn more about the impact of Covid-19.

Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said in a statement, “Despite one of the hardest years in recent memory, small business leaders have shown remarkable resilience and creativity. Many have transformed the way they do business, finding new ways to survive and thrive online. There is a rocky road ahead, but their optimism for the year to come is inspiring.”

Key global findings included:

  • The closure rate for small and midsized businesses was 15% in October, down from 26% in May, the first month surveys were conducted. However, Facebook, the World Bank and OECD pointed out that the rate has remained steady since August.
  • Since the pandemic began, 31% of women who lead businesses have spent more time on domestic tasks, compared with 26% of men, with the largest disparity occurring in the U.S.
  • SMBs receiving government help fell to 12% in October from 23% in May, with the decrease particularly noticeable in Europe and North America. Facebook, the World Bank and OECD wrote, “Econometric analysis suggests that financial support resulted in improved outcomes for SMBs (particularly with regards to employee retention and probability of closure). However, these programs have also been costly to operate, casting doubt on the long-term sustainability of these efforts if governments are not willing to continue paying the costs.”
  • A total of 56% of respondents were optimistic or very optimistic about the future of their businesses, up slightly from 54% in May, but the rate fell in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
  • A rare bright spot from the pandemic is that more SMBs learned how to leverage digital technologies to help mitigate its efforts. A total of 26% of respondents reported in October that they had increased or greatly increased the proportion of sales they made digitally over the course of the pandemic.

And highlights from the U.S. include:

  • 86% of SMBs reported that they were operational or engaging in revenue-generating activities in October—82% of SMBs led by women and 91% led by men.
  • 45% of operational SMBs reported lower sales in October than in October 2019.
  • 26% of SMBs that were operational in October reported that they had reduced their number of employees and workers due to Covid-19.
  • 39% of SMBs that were operational in October believe cash flow will continue to be a challenge over the next few months.
  • 45% of SMBs that were operational in October reported that at least 25% of their sales for the month were made digitally, and 30% reported that the proportion of sales made digitally was higher than pre-pandemic levels.
  • 68% of owners and managers of SMBs that were operational in October felt optimistic about the future of those businesses.
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