The past year has been one of the most challenging for businesses in decades. With lockdowns, restrictions and some businesses having to completely stop trading altogether, the pressure has been relentless for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). It is perhaps unsurprising that SMEs, particularly in the IT sector, are concerned about their mental health.
Companies large and small in the IT sector have been hit hard by the pandemic, with supply chains disrupted and operations subsequently affected. In May, a survey by the Institute of Supply Chain Management found that 97% of organisations have been or will be impacted by COVID-19 supply chain disruptions. For SMEs in IT, with fewer financial resources to fall back on, these challenges have proven particularly difficult to overcome.
Our research recently found that these pressures have not only taken a toll on the businesses themselves, but also the mental health of their leaders. Over two in five (41%) of SME leaders responsible for IT say their mental health has been negatively affected by the impact of the pandemic of their business.
As we enter 2021, almost two thirds (63%) of SME leaders in the IT sector are concerned about a loss of profits for their business. For some IT SME leaders, these concerns are even more grave, with almost half worried that their business may go into administration (47%), or that they will accumulate long-term debt (44%).
What we are seeing is that IT businesses are not simply worried that they will face short-term hurdles, they also have long-term concerns about the survival of their business. Over half (54%) of SME leaders in IT are worried about consumer confidence over the next year. For many companies, whether these concerns are well-founded will be the make or break of their business.
One IT business whose services have been affected by the pandemic are Birmingham based IT service providers EDIT Ltd. Typically offering face-to-face support to schools, EDIT Ltd had to adapt their services and learn new skills. Business manager, Abdul Sidike, told us that the mental health of everyone in his business was affected in some way by the pandemic.
IT businesses don’t need to suffer alone though – there is help out there. Business leaders must grasp the advice and support that is out there to help them through this difficult period.
One of these programmes is the government funded Small Business Leadership Programme (SBLP). Delivered by business schools across the country, the free programme is designed to help SME leaders build the strength and resilience of their business and to drive future growth.
All the more important, though, is the opportunity that these business courses provide for SME leaders to meet others in the same situation, discussing challenges and sharing advice on how to tackle them.
Over lockdown, we have seen people coming together: neighbours clapping for the NHS, young people dropping off groceries for their elders. We urge business leaders to do the same thing and accept help and support where they can get it – it could make all the difference in the future for their business.