73% of SMEs expect to see pre-pandemic revenue levels by year end

Sage said it found in order to adapt to the needs created by national lockdowns, more than half (52%) of those surveyed said they accelerated digital transformation plans by three years or more

U.S. businesses are becoming “increasingly confident” they will return to pre-pandemic revenue levels by the end of 2021, according to a new report by Sage.

The survey, which polled more than 1000 finance leaders across American small and midsize businesses, also indicates that many intend to keep the new business strategies implemented during the pandemic.

While only one-in-three (30%) finance leaders expect to see revenue reach or exceed pre-pandemic levels by the end of June 2021, 73% expect to achieve this mark by the end of this year. Many businesses (56%) also expect vaccine rollout efforts to positively impact their business by October.

It found in order to adapt to the needs created by national lockdowns, more than half (52%) of those surveyed said they accelerated digital transformation plans by three years or more. When asked which areas were prioritized in digitization efforts, accounting/finance (45%) was the most popular, followed by marketing (31%) and customer relationship management (26%).

When looking at what technology proved to be the most valuable over the last year, more than one-quarter (27%) of businesses surveyed said cloud accounting software was a “saving grace” solution, providing finance teams with complete visibility, remote access to real-time data, improved efficiencies, better decision making, and seamless cash-flow management.  

Nancy Harris, EVP and MD Sage North America, said: “It’s no surprise the Covid-19 pandemic disproportionately affected small and midsize businesses, along with their employees and customers. As we faced unique challenges at home and work, businesses saw great success implementing new programs, offering flexible work arrangements, and prioritizing commitment to the communities in which they operate. 

“As the world begins to reopen, it is critical that these key learnings from the last year are not lost, and that organizations continue to leverage creativity and technology to foster stronger relationships with employees, customers, and prospects for continued growth.”

Additional highlighted findings from the survey report include:

  • The most significant government support program was the federal government’s Payroll Protection Program (PPP), as one-third of businesses surveyed cited the availability of government assistance as a key reason for business survival over the past 12 months.

  • When asked what government aid would bring the most positive impact over the next year, 52% said increased funding for COVID-19 testing and additional safety measures, followed by 47% noting more employee support – either in the form of stimulus or increased funding for items such as childcare – would be most helpful.

  • Among those surveyed, finance leaders from companies with fewer than 250 employees were not only the most pessimistic about achieving revenue growth over the coming year, but they were also the most likely group to have been forced into either furloughing staff or reducing budget last year.

  • Finance professionals also extended their career skillsets significantly last year, as finance teams became a more integral part of all decisions.Almost half (41%) of finance teams believe they’ve improved their technology skills, while many believe they’ve improved their management skills (29%) and soft skills (27%).

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