Almost half of entrepreneurs and small business owners have experienced a severe decline in demand or have stopped operations altogether in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and 56% have pivoted to a new business model to survive. At the same time, more than half (54%) said they are planning to launch a new company or side hustle during the crisis.
These are among the findings of a study from global creative platform 99designs in partnership with research firm Corus, which surveyed more than 1,200 business owners about how the pandemic is affecting entrepreneurial behavior and performance.
“Entrepreneurs’ problem-solving skills, creativity and resilience come into their own during times of adversity, and with crisis comes the opportunity for reinvention and new beginning,” commented 99designs CEO, Patrick Llewellyn.
“It is significant that we’re even seeing the language around business starting to shift. In recent weeks, words and working styles more common to early-stage startups are hitting the mainstream: Pivots, collaboration, experimentation and iteration have made their way into the boardrooms of major corporations and small businesses across the country – often for the first time. There’s no doubt that the pandemic will have a lasting impact on society, but when it comes to business, it also has the potential to be a catalyst for innovation.”
How are SMBs pivoting?
With more than half of small businesses indicating that they have pivoted to adjust to COVID-19 conditions, this has meant a significant shift to operating and engaging with customers online:
- 66% of businesses who were not online before the outbreak are in the process of creating a website.
- More than a quarter of businesses (27%) are looking at refreshing their existing website as a result of COVID-19.
- Of those with plans to add ecommerce to their website, 25% of businesses have started due to COVID-19 and another 21% are discussing it as a result of the outbreak.
- 39% of businesses have either started or are planning on increasing their social media output as a result of COVID-19.
- 41% of businesses are exploring new ways to engage with their customers through new online content because of the pandemic.
Resilience, re-skilling and side hustles
The findings also point to resilience and creativity among the small business sector, even in light of current conditions. For example:
- Despite global unemployment statistics, 50% of SMBs who employ workers have managed to maintain headcount over the past month – and 10% have even been hiring.
- Over a third (34%) of business owners are taking online classes or courses to upskill during this time of disruption.
- More than half (54%) plan to start a new company or side hustle during the pandemic — and while 64% said their primary reason was because they need the income, 41% also said it was because they “have more time” and 37% said it was because they “always wanted to”.