What a rollercoster ride 2021 proved to be for SMEs

What a rollercoster ride 2021 proved to be for SMEs

After the previous 12 months, oh how we hoped that 2021 would bring fresh hope, new energy, and we even dared to believe, it might see the beginning of a post covid world. Unfortunately, even as I write this, we are in many ways where we were last year, with the prospect of even more restrictions, all as the festive season looms once more.

Every individual across the world has been impacted by the tornado that has been the last 22 months, and for those who are self-employed the uncertainty has been palpable. So, as I look back on this last year, the question arises, what have we learned, and more crucially, what next?

Small businesses are nimble!

With so many changes in the way we live and work, I have been increasingly grateful for the fact that I have a small business. Yes, there are challenges, but unlike a big corporate machine, with big employee numbers, we were able to pivot quickly and respond to changes with relative ease. 

Businesses have muscle memory

This might sound strange, but it has been a re-occurring theme for us since March 2020. In the beginning, everything was terrifyingly new – we didn’t know if we would survive certain things thrown our way, and we had to learn quickly. But each time we were thrown a curve ball – increased shipping costs – Brexit paperwork – lockdowns etc, we were able to improve our systems and the way we reacted. This means that as a business we have measures in place to deal with, almost everything!  

A loyal team is imperative

This is probably true for big and small businesses, but with the latter it is more personal, there is so much invested, and when the chips are down having a robust, loyal team is absolutely priceless. Even in the last few weeks as more covid restrictions have been implemented, as the uncertainty mounted, and anxiety heightened, my team pulled together and supported each other. I have always been acutely aware as a business owner, that people have commitments beyond the 9-5; school pick ups; sick relatives; dentist appointments; life. That is something that I will ensure stays the course, as we hopefully emerge from life in a pandemic.

You can never be prepared for everything

Like many entrepreneurs, my personality is such that I like to pre-empt things, have a rock-solid contingency plan, and ideally ensure that nothing goes awry – ever. The constantly changing landscape of running a business in a pandemic has taught me – this is an impossible expectation. 

So, while this last year, in fact two years, has been an immense challenge in more ways than we could have imagined, there have also been some learnings that I hope we will take with us into the future.

Sharon Keegan
Sharon Keegan

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