Written by Ged Cosgrove, group managing partner

The role of an SME owner and manager can, at times, feel like a lonely place, and the number of individuals feeling this stress and strain is seemingly on the rise.

SME owners are renowned for wearing multiple hats, which so often comes with the territory, yet businesses now face a growing number of issues that remain outside of their control. With this in mind, it’s easy to recognise why ‘COVID anxiety’ has become an increasingly prevalent phrase.

Many SMEs are working harder than ever to master the pandemic juggling act; from understanding the regulations which underpin our three-tier (and possibly soon to be four-tier) lockdown system, to managing a COVID-19 outbreak in the workplace and the subsequent Test and Trace, employee phasing and childcare responsibilities that come with such an occurrence. And all this is in addition to the ever-evolving financial support packages, such as the recent reforms to the Job Support Scheme, which are available from Government. Although hugely welcome, this constant reshaping of grants and loans is adding further burden to business owners.

Then, what may seem to have been overshadowed by COVID-19, we have Brexit and the real possibility of a potential ‘No Deal’ to contend with. Irrespective of the agreement reached with the EU, it’s important that businesses based in the UK take action and ensure Brexit remains a priority.

Every industry is in some way affected by Brexit, from direct imports and exports, through to the free movement of people and skills, as well as taxation and duties. Our discussions have already uncovered businesses who are stockpiling goods amid growing concerns over delays at British ports, together with those who say that Brexit has overtaken COVID-19 as their top commercial priority and biggest potential risk.

From an SME perspective, strong cashflow management remains the cornerstone of business health and this couldn’t ring truer than against the backdrop of COVID-19 and Brexit. Owners and managers must proactively plan for a potential ‘Deal’ and ‘No Deal’ Brexit, to prepare for any added uncertainty and ultimately safeguard your operations.

Whilst there is no crystal ball to predict a post-Brexit or post-COVID world, what we do have is extensive knowledge of the SME landscape and a portfolio of clients who are experiencing similar issues; and it’s this unique insight and expertise which proves invaluable.

And remember, now is a time to acknowledge loneliness by speaking up and seeking support from those around you.