As businesses reopen their doors a quarter (25%) of SME leaders “feel optimistic” about reopening and a similar amount (24%) feel motivated, according to research from Nucleus Commercial Finance.
According to the research, driving this wave of optimism is the chance to reconnect with customers for a third (32%), a similar amount (32%) are excited to get back into their working routine, and 29% are looking forward to getting back to profitability.
However, not all SME leaders share this optimism, as the findings reveal reopening is a “mixed bag of emotions”. Nucleus found that businesses leaders said they feel anxious (21%), stressed (17%) and worried (15%), while just one in 10 (9%) feel supported.
It added that when it comes to reopening their business, SME leaders have a “number of concerns” and are facing a variety of challenges, but they are “thinking first and foremost about their staff and customers”. One in five (21%) are most concerned about the welfare of their staff and a similar amount (18%) say that motivating staff will be their biggest challenge.
From a customer perspective, more than one in five (21%) cite ensuring customers adhere to social distancing as a top challenge, 19% are concerned about implementing new health and safety measures, and 16% are worried about reduced footfall due to capacity limitations. With the majority of consumers turning to online shopping over the past 12 months, one in eight (13%) SME leaders are also worried their customers will stick to new habits and not return to their old ways.
Chirag Shah, CEO, Nucleus Commercial Finance, said: “After a year of restrictions and months of closures, it’s encouraging to see so many SME leaders are optimistic about the return to work. Not only are businesses looking forward to improving their financial situation, but many are excited to reconnect with staff and customers; something communities across the UK have been missing out on.
“However, it’s clear that there is no one size fits all when it comes to reopening their businesses. There are significant practical challenges of keeping staff and customers safe, but also the difficulties of managing finances, such as buying new stock, paying returning staff and implementing new technology.”
He added: “Government and industry must work together to raise awareness of the support measures available, and reassure business owners that there is help at hand which can be tailored to their unique circumstances and delivered at speed, to support them through the pandemic and beyond.”