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Post-Covid-19 digitalisation and how SME can afford it

The pandemic has changed the way in which we consume goods and services, and the way in which businesses do business. The emphasis on digitalisation has never been greater. There are plenty of benefits but also costs, which SMEs in particular are finding hard to meet.

Life in lockdown fast-tracked the advance of online shopping and business practices, such as e-commerce platforms, remote working and the use of video conferencing technology, and as consumer society and the business world moves into the next phase, the need to maintain and develop these practices, and the importance of digital marketing is clear.

Digital marketing comprises a range of marketing formats, including blog posts, eBooks, email, social media, search engine optimisation, online brochures and online videos, and it is vital that businesses in the post-Covid-19 world embrace these methods and use them to stimulate interest in their brands and drive sales.

Adapting to the change in marketing focus needs investment and while larger organisations have the financial resources and existing infrastructure to meet this need quickly and efficiently, small businesses are in a much tougher position. Already battling survival with income decimated by the pandemic, they are faced with having to raise significant capital to invest.

To properly benefit from digitalisation, for many small businesses, new systems will have to set up. Staff will have to have training to operate the systems and the programmes that come with them. Remote working will have to be accommodated, new cybersecurity will have to put in place and a new means of customer communication will have to be mastered. And new online payment systems will have to be integrated.

These are just some of costs associated with business digitalisation and the question is, “how can small businesses afford them?”.

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 maintaining cashflow and for essential investment. These facilities, which offer a more personalised approach to lending, are helping small businesses survive and target regrowth.

Notably, alternative lending is playing a prominent role in the government emergency support schemes, in particular the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, which is connecting firms and the self-employed with loan, invoice finance and asset finance facilities. This profile is helping cement the reputation of alternative finance in the business sector.

Small businesses have to adapt to the post-Covid-19 business world to survive and digitalisation is major part of this adaptation. However, the shift and the prioritisation of digital marketing comes at a price. If owners are to successfully evolve and stay afloat, they need to be aware of all the funding options available to them, including alternative finance.

To find out more about A&T Business Associates services, contact Tony Hedger on 01903 602211 or tony.hedger@atbusinessassociates.co.uk.

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