SME owners stay optimistic as disruption creates opportunities

Entrepreneurial responses to the events of 2020 is expected to have created a wave of successful and disruptive businesses that will thrive when trading conditions become more normal in the months ahead.

A webinar hosted by brought together a panel of advisers and entrepreneurs and heard about their experiences and expectations as they deal with the business fallout from the last year.

The event, which was supported by law firm JMW, OakNorth Bank and Intelligent business brokers, examined the role SMEs will play in the economic recovery.

It is clear the SME market has maintained its inherent optimism, despite the difficulties of 2020.

Mark Fitzgerald-Cooke, managing director of business brokers Intelligent, said: “The thing that’s really, really exciting to me is we’re already seeing signs of the massive injection of entrepreneurial spirit that is going to be injected into the country, by circumstances, by changing plans.

“You can have your view on Brexit, and on Covid and vaccinations and everything else. But I’m really excited about what we are seeing already in the way people are responding.”

He described an entrepreneur who had moved from catering on private jets to opening a bakery – a change that was “forced upon him” by the impact of the pandemic, “and yet business has never been so good”.

He added: “It’s the chance for us to support and help people buy, grow and sell businesses like that for us that gets us so excited.”

Marc Yaffe, partner and head of commercial litigation at law firm JMW, said: “I love seeing creative, and dynamic and forward-thinking people that come up with new ways of doing things and creating opportunities, even in the darkest of times.

“Every single day, there is a story of someone of an entrepreneur that can give us hope and really inspire us to drive forward.”

Entrepreneur Lisa Gawthorne, who is the managing director of the UK’s leading vegan food and drink distributor, Bravura Foods, is looking forward to a change in consumer attitudes.

She said: “Once the vaccine has being rolled out and there’s better consumer confidence in the market, I’m looking forward to operating in a more refreshing world where consumers are more willing to look after themselves, treat themselves, enjoy life.

“If you can work that into your marketing positioning, then it’s going to be an exciting time.”

Stewart Haworth, debt finance director, OakNorth Bank, added: “It’s the start of the journey. I’m really looking forward to getting back out seeing customers on sites, hearing what’s going on and following stories and journeys. That’s always great.

“It’s probably the biggest satisfaction to watch a business grow over time and keep track of it. I think there’ll be a lot more of that in the next 6-12 months, then in the medium term, it will be great to see how that unfolds.”