Coronavirus research suggests resilience among smaller firms

Mobile operator Three commissions research to launch €100,000 grants scheme

Two-thirds of small businesses have a positive outlook for 2022,  research has found. Photograph: Getty Images

Two-thirds of small businesses have a positive outlook for 2022, research has found. Photograph: Getty Images

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Most small businesses were forced to change how they operate because of the pandemic, with profitability and sales down for the majority. But despite this, two-thirds of them have a positive outlook for 2022, according to research by Behaviour & Attitudes on behalf of mobile operator Three.

The mobile company commissioned the research firm to gauge the mood among businesses with fewer than 10 employees, ahead of its launch of a €100,000 grant scheme for small businesses.

The researchers contacted 129 businesses, with roughly two-thirds of them outside Dublin and the rest in the capital. Across all business sectors, 50 per cent said their revenues were down as a direct result of Covid-19 while 53 per cent reported reduced profitability.

More than a fifth said costs had risen as a direct result of the pandemic while 17 per cent of those surveyed said that coronavirus had no impact on them at all. More than two-thirds of businesses – 68 per cent – said Covid-19 had changed the way their business operates.

Challenges

About 31 per cent of businesses surveyed said they needed no outside support due to Covid-19, but of the majority that did, technology and connectivity requirements topped the list, followed by a need for marketing supports.

Slightly larger businesses among the cohort were more likely to have been affected by stock or supply shortages and were also more likely to view working from home as a challenge, compared to micro businesses with up to three staff.

Despite the challenges, most businesses were looking positively towards next year with just one in 10 small companies surveyed having a negative outlook.

Three commissioned the research as part of the launch on Monday of its scheme to split €100,000 between 10 small businesses. The programme is being run in conjunction with Enterprise Nation, a UK-based network of small businesses and advisers to them that recently launched in Ireland.

Applications for the grants are open to all businesses with fewer than 10 staff and awards will be finalised in November.

“In addition to the grant money, the winners will also receive advice and business solutions from Three,” said the mobile operator’s head of SME, Pádraig Sheerin.

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