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The post-pandemic tech era and how SMEs can afford it

Covid-19 has redrawn the relationship between small businesses and technology. To adapt and thrive in the post-pandemic marketplace, firms will have to embrace new systems and solutions. Footing the bill will be a major challenge. Here’s how they can do it.

While much has already been made of the impact of the pandemic on small business use of e-commerce platforms and cashless payment technology, the effect of the crisis on how these firms engage with technology is set to be broader, in particular as minimising face-to-face interaction is likely to be a principal focus, in the short term at least.

Against this background, the push for companies to make greater use of technology and apps to manage employee time, streamline processes at department level, better understand key audience demographics, manage online B2B payments, improve customer service and drive growth on a national and an international scale is likely to be significant.

The good news is that this technology is already out there, ready to be employed to help small businesses find traction and move forward in the post-pandemic marketplace. And given the relentless pace of innovation, there will undoubtedly be new apps and tools to do these tasks even smarter before we know it.

However, there are barriers to this type of development; cost is one of them. While large businesses have the resources to invest in this kind of growth, and many if not most are already doing so, the picture is different for smaller firms. If times were already difficult before Covid-19, many are now in a fight for survival. That’s not to say there isn’t optimism about the future and there won’t be new opportunities, but finding the capital will be hard.

So, how can small businesses afford to embrace new systems and solutions in the post-Covid-19 era?

Alternative finance can help.

In the wake of prolonged caution from traditional lenders, alternative finance facilities such as invoice finance, asset finance, peer-to-peer lending and crowdfunding are proving a vital source of capital for small businesses, both for safeguarding cashflow and for essential investment. These facilities, which offer a more personalised approach to lending, are helping small businesses survive and grow.

Tellingly, alternative finance is playing a key role in the government’s Covid-19 business support strategy, in particular with regard to the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, which offers access to a range of finance facilities, including alternative finance services. Notably, the government has markedly expanded the list of accredited lenders, with a number of alternative lenders among the latest to be included.

As small businesses prepare to re-open and target new growth, and the government begins to talk about winding down and withdrawing its emergency support schemes, it is important that these firms are aware of all the financing options available to them, including the services offered by alternative lenders.

To find out more about A&T Business Associates services, contact Steve Bowles on 01903 602211 or steve.bowles@atbusinessassociates.co.uk.

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