Small and medium-sized enterprises ready for a second wave of a pandemic. Are you sure?
Entrepreneurs in the small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) sector did not passively wait for the fall. However, the reality may turn out to be more difficult for them than they anticipated.
Entrepreneurs from the SME sector declare that they have prepared for the second wave of the pandemic. This is the result of the fifth edition of the “Koronabilans SMEs” survey, conducted by the National Debt Register (KRD), which is cited by the SME Ombudsman Office. Most of the companies surveyed say that they have taken appropriate measures to this end. Medium-sized companies were mobilized the most, with 85% of them believing that they are ready for a second wave of the pandemic. However, are the conclusions of the study sure that there are reasons for optimism?
Optimism after all
As many as 60% of the surveyed entities claim that while preparing for the fall, incl. introduced additional precautions, i.e. the need to use masks in the office or production hall, regular disinfection of rooms, or even refund of coronavirus tests for employees returning from holidays or a delegation. Moreover, the entrepreneurs secured the goods in warehouses and planned to expand their offer with new products.
However, they are not very optimistic about the future. As many as 64.8% of respondents believe that the pandemic affects their production, sale or provision of services. This may result in a decline in revenues in the future. 43.1% of the respondents are afraid of this, while only 1.6% expect an increase.
Business owners are also afraid of absenteeism, which they may have to deal with as a result of the possible closure of educational institutions. 40% of respondents have such concerns. At the same time, this problem may affect most medium-sized companies and companies operating in the construction industry.
The percentage of respondents who expect their economic situation to worsen in the next three months increased from 24.3% to nearly 30%.
At the same time, however, every second surveyed company owner positively assesses the current economic situation of his business. In this respect, the number of optimists increased compared to the previous edition of the survey. This may be due to the fact that for Polish companies an optimistic approach to their economic situation is typical. They tend to rate it better than the facts justify it. However, you can see that this time is not the only reason. Quite simply, the latest study was done after a relatively quiet summer period, before the number of infections drastically increased.
Lots of challenges
In general, it seems that the level of pessimism that emerges from the study cited above is not adjusted to the challenges that await entrepreneurs in the near future. It is enough to take into account the fact that only 5.3% of small and medium-sized companies, mainly conducting service activities, can afford 100% remote work, and in the case of 58.3% all work exclusively in the company. This alone shows that a deterioration in business performance should be expected in the future to a much greater extent than declared by the companies in the survey.Moreover, there are indications that the re-lockdown is getting closer. Even if this black scenario did not materialize, the absences of employees themselves caused by the surge in infections and the increasing scope of quarantine, will be a serious challenge for companies.The declaration of 49% of entrepreneurs who claim that without the support from government programs they will not be able to function is also disturbing. Almost 3/4 of the surveyed SMEs have already benefited from such assistance. The largest number of beneficiaries of government programs is among micro-enterprises (as much as 80%). The government has recently announced a new aid envelope aimed at industries that have been banned in the near future. However, as entrepreneurs comment, the new support amounting to a total of PLN 1.8 billion is a drop in the ocean of their needs.
The government makes it clear that it is out of the question to maintain such a wide scale of public aid as we saw in the spring.All this means that in the near future the situation of companies from the SME sector may be much more difficult than it seemed in the summer.