businessman weighed down by coronavirus stone block, small businesses closure concept

Weighed down: 39% of SMEs have either closed temporarily or plan to do so shortly

Two in five small businesses face temporary closure because of coronavirus, according to productivity organisation Be the Business.

Thirty-nine per cent of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have already closed temporarily or plan to do so within the next month.

The research, conducted by Opinium, also found that 7 per cent of firms have already shut permanently, and a further 12 per cent think they are likely to do this within the next month.

>See also: Banks not cooperating with coronavirus loan, complain small businesses

And 23 per cent have made or are planning to make redundancies.

Responding to the coronavirus threat, SMEs say they are equally focused on managing cash flow (31 per cent) and accessing grants and government loans (31 per cent). However, the longer-term issue of supporting their staff was highlighted by a quarter (24 per cent) of firms.

As for the types of support and advice SMEs are looking for, this varies according to size.

  • For micro-businesses (those with fewer than 10 employees), cashflow is crucial, with 40 per cent stating they need advice on this
  • Small businesses (10-49 employees) are looking for support to access grants and government loans (31 per cent)
  • Medium-sized firms (50-249 employees) want the most guidance with supporting staff from a wellbeing perspective (44 per cent)

Tony Danker, chief executive, Be the Business, said: “Coronavirus has impacted almost every business in the country and many are finding it difficult to know what to do next. Many have already taken the difficult decision to cease operations and are looking for advice on how best to access financial support.”

>See also: 6 tips for cash flow management during the coronavirus crisis

However, Be the Business and Opinium only surveyed 500 small business decision makers for its survey over three days last week, when alarm over coronavirus was at its height.

Small businesses closure

Meanwhile, seven out of 10 business leaders see Covid-19 as posing a high or severe threat to their organisation, according to the Institute of Directors.

Forty per cent of respondents to its survey of 700 business leaders had already contacted their bank about an emergency loan, while slightly more (42 per cent) had contacted HMRC to defer tax payments.

Over 70 per cent of directors have already seen demand for their products or services decrease, including 42 per cent who have seen a significant decrease.

Further reading on coronavirus

What coronavirus small business help is available for free?

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