What are the Latest SMB Attitudes on Operating in a Pandemic

Covid-19 continues to be a moving target as the Delta variant is in a cat & mouse game with a partially-vaccinated popululation. As this continues to raise lots of uncertainty for daily life, SMBs are caught up in the mix, showing varying attitudes about how to optimally run their operations.

A new report from SMB fintech provider Kabbage looks to shine a light on those sentiments and get a temperature reading on SMBs operating under Covid rule. One high-level takeaway that continues to be validated is that the pandemic has accelerated SMBs’ digital transformation.

“The pandemic shifted the way small businesses look at having a digital presence — from a nice-to-have to a must-have,” GoSite CEO Alex Goode told us in response to the data. “SMBs had to quickly shift their storefront, payment methods, customer communication, and engagement channels online.”

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Highlight Reel

So what were the results of the survey? We’ve extracted the highlight reel below. Before diving in, it’s worth noting some of the methodology details: The study polled 550 SMBs across a range of business verticals and headcounts from July 27 – August 17, 2021. More details can be seen here.

– 63 percent of SMBs report that they’re fully open, down from 85 percent in May (pre-Delta variant).

– 31 percent were previously fully open but have now chosen to reinstate restrictions.

– 32 percent report that it’s “very” or “somewhat” difficult to be fully staffed, up from 28 percent in May.

– Primary reasons for staffing shortages include unqualified candidates (32 percent), candidates’ obligations for childcare (32 percent), or safety fears (29 percent).

– 40 percent say existing staff are working significantly longer hours to compensate for the lack of help.

– 34 percent they visited a bank less than five times this year, while 16 percent haven’t been to the bank at all.

–32 percent have correspondingly changed financial services providers in 2021.

– Of the remaining 68 percent who haven’t changed providers, 27 percent and 26 percent said they intend to change their personal and business checking accounts in the next six months, respectively.

– Among the respondents who have changed providers, 24 percent say that it’s because their new provider offers multiple financial solutions as a one-stop shop.

– Other top reasons were because new providers offer products that make it easier to run their company (22 percent); or they wanted to change to an online banking service (21 percent).

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Fire Tested 

The biggest takeaway from these results is the way SMBs are adapting to the current environment. In particular, those who have shifted financial services providers offer a telling glimpse into the strength of the fintech sector as it currently sits. It will continue to be in an advantageous position.

Meanwhile, SMBs — whether they like it or not — are more primed and fire tested than they were pre-pandemic. And that’s a good thing. But it could also serve to separate the weak from the strong in the post-Covid world, as digital converts will likely have an edge over competitors.

“We’ve seen from our own customers — the businesses that were agile and leaned into SMB technology have been able to stay strong and continue to grow,” said Goode. “SaaS platforms allow traditionally offline businesses to reach new people and expand their customer base, more than ever before.”

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