Sheer ingenuity, often coupled with technology to connect, communicate and trade, has enabled more small businesses to start, survive, and even grow during this difficult time. As we look forward to (hopefully) the beginning of the end of the pandemic, what lessons can we learn from these creative and resourceful entrepreneurs?

830,000+ new businesses were registered in the UK in 2020, up 41% from 2019 [Source]

488,000 new business applications were made in April 2021 in the US, up from 232,000 in April 2020 [Source]

84,000 new businesses registered in France in October 2020, up 20% from 2019 and the highest ever recorded [Source]

15,600 estimated new active businesses logged in Canada between March 2020-2021 [Source]

3,400,000 new businesses opened in Brazil in 2020 – a record-breaking number for the country [Source]

10,000+ more businesses were created in Australia in June 2021 than the same month in 2019 [Source]

STORIES OF
INGENUITY

REIMAGINE

When the unthinkable happens, it is time to think differently. Owners of small businesses were forced to reimagine their world during the pandemic. They discovered new ways of working, created new products and even launched new business ventures, proving just how resilient every small business owner can be when protecting their dreams.

DIGITISE

Technology has been a lifeline to many small businesses during the pandemic. With many premises closed during lockdown or with customers unable to visit, owners had to find a way to keep trading. Online sales, backed by local delivery, allowed customers to support local businesses until their doors reopened.

COLLABORATE

The global small business community found strength in numbers over the past few years. Inspiring stories have emerged of owners working together to overcome adversity, from providing support and advice, to collaborating on new ideas and joint ventures that enabled them to keep trading through the worst of the pandemic.

CONNECT

Small businesses thrive on their unique, strong connections with their community and customers. These relationships proved vital during tough times. Owners connected with their communities to see how they could help, while customers were keen to protect the trusted suppliers they value so much, building even stronger, long-lasting bonds.

DID YOU
KNOW?

92%

of US small businesses have reinvented themselves during the pandemic through pivoting their business [Source]

80%

of British small businesses believe they have shown resilience at its best throughout the pandemic [Source]

20%

of French startups changed their business model in 2020 as a response to the pandemic, with only 5.7% believing they would have to give their business up towards the end of the year [Source]

 

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REIMAGINE

Small business leaders are agile and resilient, so even when their foundations were shaken by the pandemic and the future looked uncertain, they found a way to keep trading, often turning to technology as a way to keep their businesses open to customers.

A Florae

Like millions of small businesses around the world, floral design studio A Florae had to reimagine its business model during the pandemic. While new initiatives included online sales, A Florae owner Rachel Hunter also made a life-changing decision. “You can’t have your dream in front of you and decide to choose fear.”

Hustl

How do you go from rock bottom back to being on top when your business faces big challenges? The lessons learned during the pandemic can provide inspiration to future generations of business owners about embracing change. Discover how new doors to growth opened when a new fitness studio was forced to close.

DIGITIZE

Baobab

When a small business is built on personal relationships, digital solutions can seem like a barrier. But during the pandemic, they brought companies closer to their customers, through social media campaigns and online sales. Digital solutions meant communities were able to remain loyal to their local suppliers, such as this Spanish bookshop.

Realthings

The seeds of growth can be planted at the toughest of times. Owners embrace new approaches, accelerating adoption of digital solutions, such as online stores, remote working tools or data analysis that drives clearer decisions. The result is a stronger business that is primed for future growth, as this Italian retailer discovered.

4/5 small business owners now say they would use digital tools such as fintech apps, digital banks, and alternative finance [Source]

63% of UK SMEs have shifted more of their trading and operations online, and 60% have increased their investment in digital infrastructure [Source]

63% of SMEs in New Zealand feel the digital-driven operational shifts they’ve made over the past year will benefit their business long-term [Source]

COLLABORATE

When the pandemic closed their food market, a community of Sydney stall holders collaborated to launch a successful online alternative.

We are all in this together and we had to get ourselves out of trouble together.

- Aurore Ghigo, Cheese on Wheels

We have many customers in common, so people who come to them come to us.

- Laura Failla, owner, la Bottega Sfusa

Two different businesses in Italy with a common focus on sustainability worked together to create a green space for customers.

CONNECT

Brighton Gin

Success in small business depends on close connections, with team members, the community, and customers. The pandemic made connections stronger and businesses more focused as they relied on key relationships. For Brighton Gin, these powerful connections helped them find a way through the pandemic to forge a path to future growth.

Houseplant Happiness

The strength of small businesses is how well they know their customers; their creation is often based on understanding local customer demand. Specialist botanical retailer Houseplant Happiness raised funds to launch through a crowdfunding campaign and its community of customers were on hand again to help it trade through the pandemic.

44% of consumers believe it is “extremely important” to shop locally and 53% believe it’s more important to shop with local businesses now than it was before the pandemic [Source]

78% of small business owners are confident about the future of their business and 54% expect to experience a growth turnover in the next 12 months [Source]

94% of consumers that were inspired to support small businesses during the pandemic plan to continue to do so in the future [Source]

The videos on this page were submitted as part of a global filmmaking competition called ‘Ingenious’ - sponsored by Pollinate in collaboration with Mastercard. Find out more about the competition, and view more films here.

Mastercard Digital
Acceleration Program

A resource for small business owners looking to expand their business digitally. The platform provides essential resources, tools, and e-learning platforms to help small businesses to enhance their e-commerce capabilities, protect their online operations, and adapt to the new business environment.

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