Supporting Small Businesses From One Uncertain Year to the Next

As 2020 draws to a close, small to midsize businesses (SMBs) around the world are at different stages of coping with economic impacts of the global pandemic. According to a recent Aberdeen report, many expect to remain in survival mode in 2021 (24%) while others expect to start seeing revenue increase in the new year (29%). The same goes for the state of business travel among SMBs: More than half expect to resume business travel in 2021 (57%) while others are holding out until access to vaccines is more widely available.

This year of uncertainty and unpredictability has created challenges and tested SMBs like never before. At the start of 2020, SMBs accounted for roughly 48% of the U.S. economy and provided employment to about 60 million people. Then unemployment among smaller companies rose to 14.7% at the beginning of the pandemic—and businesses with 20 – 49 employees experienced the largest employment decline of any size group. 

Out of this, SMBs have shown their flexibility and resilience by establishing new best practices and strategies to navigate such extraordinary business disruptions. Twenty-five percent of SMBs have repurposed or reassigned employees to do new tasks. In addition, IDC reports at least 70% of digitally enabled SMBs will operate under a hybrid model of working by 2021, with remote work emerging as a norm. 

 

Celebrating customer successes 

We’ve seen these trends play out among SAP Concur customers. Like many SMBs and nonprofit organizations, CAF America, a global grantmaking 501 (c)(3) organization, transitioned its employees to work from home during the COVID-19 lockdown. Using SAP Concur expense management solutions, 80% of CAF America staff submitted expenses for home office equipment in less than two weeks and were reimbursed within the same pay period. As a result, CAF America staff were able to focus their time and energy on strategic COVID-19 initiatives, including the development of an extensive database of charities responding to the crisis and the publication of a series of COVID-19 reports that summarize more than 2,000 responses from charities around the world.

Genevant Sciences—which partners with pharmaceutical companies to utilize its world-class nucleic acid delivery technology in the development of a broad range of innovative nucleic acid therapeutics— rapidly adjusted its existing financial system to enable new initiatives in real time while avoiding unnecessary downtime, additional sandbox testing, or staff training. Cloud-based SAP Concur solutions supported Genevant in this new global environment.

 

Preparing for the year ahead

With the next wave of U.S. federal stimulus stalled and presidency transitions afoot, the next chapter for business leaders may be equally uncertain—but the SAP Concur organization is here to help where we can. We’ve gathered several useful resources to help SMBs through lingering uncertainty heading into the new year, including:

  •  Expert advice from Gene Marks, CPA and president of The Marks Group, on key topics like the PPP Flexibility Act and valuable tax strategies that SMBs can implement as they keep operating against tightened budgets. 
  • Free trials of Concur Expense and Concur Invoice for U.S. small businesses through SAP Concur’s continued participation in the “Stand for Small” initiative by American Express.
  • Regular updates to our popular Timely Topics Education Series, available via the SAP Concur Community.
  • New offerings with key partners that benefit SMBs, including AvidPay’s integration with Concur Invoice and U.S. Bank Instant Card’s integration with Concur Expense. Additionally, SAP Concur solutions have many features to help address the challenges that SMBs currently face, including automated expense and invoice management to enable a remote workforce, integration with payment providers to manage the increasing popularity of virtual card payments, and reporting capabilities that can provide full visibility into spend to preserve cash flow and identify opportunities for savings. 

While we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, we know there is a long way to go. Whether business is picking up or slowing down in the weeks and months ahead, giving organizations the control over costs they need to be responsive and flexible is our top priority. We’re here to help SMBs survive and thrive in 2021 and beyond.

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