Report: Customer Behavior, Cash Flow Are SMBs’ Biggest Current Challenges

Posted by Sarah Lerche

2.5-minute read (500 words)

As the owner of any small- or medium-sized business will agree, it’s a difficult time to be an entrepreneur right now. This is particularly true for businesses most impacted by COVID-19, such as hotels, restaurants, spas and salons. But every business has felt at least some effect of the coronavirus pandemic, and a new report indicates that the ripples seem to spread far and wide.

Facebook recently surveyed 86,000 owners of small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), and the ensuing report indicates that some 31 percent of SMBs have shut down in the past three months, most of which were required to close by law.

About two thirds of the SMBs polled said they plan to eventually reopen in the future, and 79 percent of those who are still in business said they’ve changed operations to accommodate customers and clients. These shifts include offering digital payments, launching curbside or home delivery, providing digital ordering tools and offering other strategies.

But expanding technologically won’t solve everything, and half the businesses that Facebook surveyed indicated that they need to conduct the majority of their business operations in person. “Stay at home doesn’t always mean shopping from home,” one business told Facebook. “All business cannot be digital. I’m not suggesting opening doors to nonessential businesses, but until those doors do open, we need financial support.”

SMBs Share Reopening Concerns

As select businesses plan to reopen their doors, the biggest concern they have centers around cash flow, while the next most pressing fear relates to lack of demand. It’s unclear how customers will feel about going back into the public and spending their money, and many entrepreneurs worry that the same interest for their products and services won’t exist compared to what it was like before the pandemic.

Because Facebook counts many SMBs among its user base, the company has a unique access point to reach out to entrepreneurs. The social media giant heard some of the honest feedback that business owners have about the future, including vast concerns about how to balance new domestic responsibilities with the pressures of owning a business. Almost half of the survey respondents said they are feeling burned out while trying to balance the care of a business and a household concurrently, while another 29 percent said they worry about bringing coronavirus home from work.

Some businesses expressed a strong need to pivot their lines of work to adapt to the new way of consumer behavior. “The primary industry segment we serve, meetings/events/weddings, has essentially disappeared,” one respondent shared with Facebook. “We need to promote our business to new and different market segments in order to maintain enough revenue to endure the shutdowns.”

Resource: To read the complete Facebook report, visit the company’s website.

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