Comcast Study: Small Businesses Stressed but Ready for Second Wave

A survey released today by Comcast Business shows that SMBs, while battered by COVID, feel prepared for the second wave of the virus anticipated this fall and winter. The survey ran from August 18 to 23 and sampled 600 small businesses.

The survey, conducted for Comcast Business by IDC, found that 78% of respondents feel well prepared for a second wave. The experience of managing through the pandemic has also compelled significant changes in the ways small businesses operate. And these changes have given operators more confidence to survive another wave.

Key among these changes to how SMBs operate is the accelerated adoption of new technology. Here is what Comcast Business says about the pandemic’s influence on tech adoption:

Without the pandemic, nearly one-third of companies (31%) admitted they would have never implemented the technologies they did – with 23% projecting it would have taken them one to three years to realize such changes. In turn, many businesses are now more agile and advanced than ever before, providing them greater opportunity for more efficient and streamlined operations.”

Localogy’s Modern Commerce Monitor™ small business tracking study (Wave V-III), conducted in July, also highlights how COVID has accelerated tech adoption among small business operators. The chart below, for example, shows how the number of SMBs using apps to run their business has grown from 36% in Q4 2019 (Wave IV) to 60% in Wave V-III.

Not Back to Normal

The Comcast study shows that many SMBs are still operating on a limited basis. This seems particularly precarious, given small businesses are anticipating a coming spike. Only 21% of SMBs say they have resumed normal operations. And about half expect it will take another six months to get back to normal. Another 23% expect it to take another year or more to get back to normal.

The survey also shows the physical and emotional toll the pandemic has taken on small business operators. A full 65% of operators said they were stressed out by COVID-19’s impact on their businesses. And 68% said the virus has cost them at least an hour of sleep per night.

Cash, Customers Top Concerns

MCM Wave V-III shows us that what worries SMBs most in the near term. These are also among the greatest risks in a second wave of the virus.

For example, SMBs’ most significant worries involve managing cashflow and hanging onto customers. These are likely to be key challenges this fall/winter should a second wave trigger a new round of lockdowns, partial or otherwise.

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