How we are supporting SMEs to adapt and survive

Post author image. Hannah Tankard
Calling small business in Blackpool, Newport and the Fylde Coast. Find out more on the support available to you.
Hannah Tankard

Almost a year to the day, Business in the Community (BITC) published a simple checklist of what small businesses should do as they faced the unprecedented challenges of national lockdown. Since then we know businesses of all sizes have had their resilience tested to levels we never expected and for far longer than imaginable.

For many businesses it has been a struggle to survive. An estimated 234,000 businesses were forced to close last year1 and it is estimated that a further 850,000 businesses could permanently close between now and May unless more recovery interventions from the government are secured2. Despite these bleak figures we have also learnt that many businesses have responded to the pandemic with resolve, flexibility, and strength.

Pivoting – or adapting business models – has required a degree of ingenuity. Business owners have been forced to think in new ways about their core offerings, how to reach their customers, and to use technology in different ways. An urgent need to adapt and survive has carried on alongside having to implement stringent health and safety measures, navigating public and private financial assistance, and dealing with the stress and anxieties of dispersed colleagues, themselves facing their own personal challenges.

Although some business owners may have relished more time at home; others have struggled with the lack of social contact and the opportunities that usually comes from networking events or speaking with customers face-to-face. The journey for small businesses continues to be rocky and that is before we have not even mentioned Brexit.

Tailored support for the long term

Since publishing our small businesses guidance over the past year, BITC has considered how we can support small businesses in the recovery from COVID-19. We have listened to BITC members and small business owners alike: we have learnt there is not one single package of support for all the diverse small businesses across the UK, it needs to be bespoke. We also understand that support will be required in the recovery from COVID-19 just as much as during the crisis itself; after all, it is often in long-term recovery from emergencies that we can feel most alone.

Therefore, for business owners across the UK, BITC is providing professional services support, coaching, mentoring and advice across a breadth of business issues (including HR, legal, finance and sales and marketing) through our National Business Response Network (NBRN). This is our platform, that matches offers of business support to community needs.

A national response

Working with key local partners, BITC is trialling supporting small businesses in some of the places most impacted by COVID-19 to ensure they are able to:

  • stay open
  • continue to provide local employment
  • strengthen local economies.

We are doing this by listening to the nuanced needs of small businesses and then mobilising the skills and resources of our members to meet these needs.

We are currently engaging with small businesses based in Newport (Wales), Aberdeen (Scotland) and on the Fylde Coast (England). If you are a business owner in any of these three locations, you can register for support today. Our teams will be in touch to understand your needs and discuss next steps.

With the right support, we know that small business owners will come through this most challenging of times stronger and more resilient.

Build back responsibly with BITC

As we look to the months ahead, we will be supporting our members to be bigger, bolder and faster in delivering the changes that are needed to ensure a responsible recovery.



1 Simply Business, 2020, The impact of Covid-19 on UK small business [online]
2 The Labour Party, 2021, Labour sets out plans to turbo-charge British Business Recovery [online]