Starting a business is rarely easy.
Keeping a business going amid a global pandemic is another challenge altogether.
Now small business owners have been sharing their feelings on surviving the first lockdown and counting the costs to their financial (and mental) health.
New research from The Well Institute, conducted online between October 14th and 27th among 257 SMEs, found that the March lockdown caused huge shifts in business owners’ views of their work. Many of the negatives reported have not changed since the end of the first lockdown.
The survey shows that the pandemic and lockdown substantially reduced the number of people earning enough for their day-to-day needs (from 70% down to 40% during the lockdown and only at 44% now).
Their sense of empowerment for self-determination plummeted (down from 62% to 25% during the lockdown and at 32% now)
While 48% felt they were achieving their goals before the pandemic, that figure dropped to 28% during the lockdown and it’s continuing to slip, now sitting at 24%.
Around 32% of small business owners said they were happy in work before Covid-19 hit. That figure is down to 20% now.
Against these negative shifts, there have been some positive changes…
It’s not all bad news. While nobody would have chosen this particular life lesson, it seems there have been some positive takeaways.
For instance; being driven by fear of failure was at 28% before and during the lockdown and has since declined to 22%.
SME owners and the self-employed report their productivity is returning (57% were very productive pre-Covid, and this dropped to 28% during the lockdown and is now at 46%).
— wyon stansfeld (@pinocchiorebel) October 24, 2020
Being creative in work (at 63% before the pandemic) was down to 43% during the first lockdown and is now back to 54%.
Small business owners report that the most important factors in their business survival or success are their own mental health (88%) and having a positive mindset (88%), followed closely by keeping calm (84%), being adaptable to new ways of doing business (82%) and having stamina (81%).
“A quarter of small businesspeople claimed that before Covid they had been re-evaluating their reasons for building a business, and during lockdown, this doubled to 50%. They took time to focus on what to do next, and to calm themselves,” says Valerie Wistreich, founder of The Well Institute.
“Despite this, since they’ve re-opened their businesses, there has been a tendency to go back to the old ways and not try to change their work-life balance.”
“I was heartened by the level of optimism and enthusiasm which small business owners are expressing about the future,” says Valerie. “But their hope is also mixed with anxiety and stress, and while the men in the research were more likely to report their optimism, the women were much more likely to admit to being stressed, anxious and sad.”