We recently fielded an SMB Pulse survey of 500 principals of U.S. companies with up to 500 employees. Among other things, we wanted to understand the effect of the pandemic on business operations.
First, we asked whether SMBs have been affected by inflation. Slightly more than half of respondents have been, with little variation by company size. In response, many SMBs have increased prices to maintain their profit margins – almost half (45%) of companies with fewer than 20 employees (very small businesses, or VSBs); and almost three in five companies with 20 to 99 employees (small businesses, or SBs) and with 100 to 500 employees (midsized businesses, or MBs).
What does this mean for SMB marketers? In short, many SMBs are price sensitive. In fact, three in five SMBs, regardless of company size, say they are more cost-conscious as a result of the pandemic, and will spend more cautiously. So it is critical to demonstrate the payback your solution provides.
Pandemic effects on SMBs
Inflation, of course, is not the only effect of the pandemic; it has also affected the supply chain, hiring, work location and employee relations. Over two in five VSBs (44%) have been negatively impacted by the availability of raw materials or supplies – as have just over half (52%) of SBs and almost two in three (65%) MBs.
On the staffing front, the pandemic is challenging SMBs in multiple ways. Staffing shortages have negatively impacted the sales or operations of one in five VSBs (22%), almost half of SBs (45%), and over half of MBs (55%) – so whatever you can do to help SMBs with staffing or productivity will be well received. In fact, “improves employee productivity” is the benefit that MBs want most from new technology for their business. The challenge in hiring is highlighted by the number of SMBs who have been ghosted by job applicants – 19% of VSBs, 28% of SBs and 41% of MBs have seen job candidates simply disappear.
In another personnel challenge, SMBs are responsible for implementing a wide range of COVID protocols, depending on their industry and local regulations – and oftentimes without clear guidance. Employees who resist vaccination, potentially putting themselves, co-workers and customers at risk, are a particular challenge. 14% of VSBs have had significant issues with employees resisting vaccination – as have 31% of SBs and 49% of VSBs.
Finally, we wanted to get a sense of return-to-work plans. 16% of VSBs will permanently give up office or other workspace because of the pandemic –as will 24% of SBs and 38% of MBs. Commercial real estate will take a while to rebound from the impact of COVID-19 on SMBs.
Need help understanding and/or engaging SMBs? Bredin can keep you up to date on evolving SMB needs and challenges through quick-turn, actionable market research. We can also help you develop high-value content and social posts to boost SMB awareness, brand perception, leads, conversion and revenue.