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Business School Survey Of Entrepreneurs Aims To Inform Government Response

Posted: 6th May 2020

Initial results from a nationwide survey conducted by University of Edinburgh Business School show that 68 per cent of the UK’s most dynamic entrepreneurs have cashflow concerns, up from 25 per cent before the Covid-19 crisis.

The survey analysed responses from 565 fast growing entrepreneurial businesses. These firms represent 6 per cent of all UK businesses but play an outsized role in economic growth, providing half of all new jobs and a high proportion of the country’s export and productivity growth.

Findings also show that almost half of businesses surveyed have halted all strategic investment, 59 per cent are seeing a significant fall in business turnover and 51 per cent are experiencing supply chain issues. One third of companies surveyed felt the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention scheme is unlikely to benefit them and 1-in-5 think all of the relief measures do not go far enough.

Follow-on surveys will be conducted in the coming months to gather information on business performance. Businesses taking part will provide information on the current state of their operations, including employee numbers and turnover figures, and what the government can do to help. This kind of information isn’t readily available as many small firms and self-employed workers are not obliged by law to provide it.

The ongoing study is being led by Professor Francis Greene and Dr Alessandro Rosiello from University of Edinburgh Business School and aims to provide up-to-date information about the prospects of entrepreneurial firms in order to guide the government response to the Covid-19 crisis. It is supported by the UK’s Productivity Insight Network and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

Greene and Rosiello also asked entrepreneurs about their levels of stress before COVID-19 and their current levels of stress using a scale where 0 equals not stressed, and 10 is extremely stressed. The baseline reflects the fact that entrepreneurship is intrinsically stressful as entrepreneurs seek to juggle competing and difficult tasks, often with limited information and resources. Before the outbreak, the average score was 5.7. However, since COVID-19, the average rose to 7.8, an increase of 37 per cent. This points to the wider challenges entrepreneurs face in running a business in a time of crisis.

Prof Greene, Chair in Entrepreneurship at the University of Edinburgh Business School, said:

“Covid-19 has caused significant losses for over half of our most growth-orientated companies and stalled a substantial proportion of the investment these firms would have otherwise made in growing their business.

“These firms are the key growth engine of the economy and of the nation’s export trade. We will depend on their entrepreneurial dynamism to repair the UK economy after COVID-19. The government needs to start developing a long-term plan to support these firms after the lockdown ends when many will have little or no revenue.”

Further information about the survey and how to take part in the follow-ups is available here: The survey takes no more than 10 minutes to complete.

Business Comment

Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
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