In the most recent earnings calls, several telecommunications executives have expressed concern over how the COVID-19 crisis was impacting small-to-medium sized businesses (SMBs), with some of them saying they expected a large number of SMBs to not re-open.
According to findings from a recent survey commissioned by Verizon Business, 68% of the small business believed they could recoup their COVID-19 related losses. The survey analyzed the responses from owners and decision makers at businesses that remained operational during the pandemic.
Without corporate backing, some SMBs have had to weather the coronavirus pandemic by closing their doors due to shelter-in-place and quarantines policies across the globe and in the U.S. With those policies starting to lift in countries such as Italy and Spain, as well as in cities and states in the U.S., nearly half (46%) of the small business that remained open said they would be able to stay open for more than six months if the pandemic continues along the same lines.
The survey, which was conducted with 500 SMBs that are either currently open or plan to re-open, presented a more optimistic view than previous data for how SMBs would recover from the pandemic. Overall, 48% of small businesses responded that it was unlikely they would need to resume operations with a smaller staff.
While 78% of small businesses have posted declining sales, less than a quarter (24%) said that they had missed or withheld any payments of bills such as rent or utilities.
“These findings echo what we have been hearing from many of our customers: a feeling of optimism," said TJ Fox, president of Verizon Business Markets said, in a statement. "Now that the initial shock of the pandemic has passed, many small businesses are focusing on the future by investing in new ways to adjust to the new work from home model, optimize revenue and find ways to succeed in the new business as usual.”
In a recent interview with FieceTelecom, World Wide Technology's Neil Anderson, senior director of network solutions, said the coronavirus pandemic has pushed companies of all sizes to accelerate their digital transformation plans, and the companies that had already adopted digital transformation and cloud strategies were better able to pivot in the first few weeks of the pandemic.
Verizon Business' survey results echoed some of Anderson's points, including 43% of the respondents now planning to expand their businesses through digital and related technologies. In addition, 30% have already added new methods for delivering their products and services digitally.
The survey also indicated that small business owners were seeking additional advice and assets to help them recover from the pandemic. In terms of the expertise needed for recovery, small businesses cited financial (54%), e-commerce (42%) and HR (40%) as the key areas that they would like help with, according to the survey.
While the survey paints an optimistic picture for the recovery of SMBs, AT&T's chief operating officer John Stankey said at an investor conference earlier this month that one of the biggest uncertainties was how many SMBs would be able to re-open once the COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted. Stankey also said he expected it would be a "fairly slow climb" out of the lower end of the business market this year.