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Resilience, Recovery, and Recruitment : Small business optimism will result in millions of new jobs in 2021

With vaccine rollouts underway, hopes of an end to national lockdowns and investments made in technologies during the pandemic, 78% of small businesses expect their business to be
profitable by 2022


  • As we emerge from lockdown, three-quarters (74%) of small businesses across the U.S., U.K. and France feel optimistic about their business a year from now and 52% feel the pandemic has made their business more resilient.
  • When thinking about future profits for small businesses, Sage’s survey suggests that businesses expect to return to pre-pandemic profitability by Q4 2021 thanks to an increase in consumer confidence and greater efficiencies.
  • Optimism will translate into new jobs across the globe, with 4.6 million in the U.S., 1.2 million more jobs forecasted in the U.K., and 2.4 million in France.

ATLANTA, May 18, 2021 – Sage, the market leader in cloud business management solutions, unveiled the true levels of resilience and optimism amongst small businesses across the U.S., U.K. and France as major economies reopen across the globe and consumer confidence rises. Sage’s recent sentiment survey shows that small businesses – the economic backbone of many countries – have reached a turning point and confidence has largely returned.

Three quarters of small businesses surveyed are optimistic about the future of their business and growth trajectory in the next year. Optimism is mainly driven by the vaccine rollout program (45%), the return of in-person customer engagement (35%) and projections of increased consumer spending (32%). Over eight in 10 small businesses do not expect another lockdown with most small businesses feeling optimistic that their business will return to pre-pandemic levels this summer – both in terms of profitability and staffing. In fact, 81% of small businesses across markets believe their business will return to pre-pandemic profitability this summer. This confidence is led by the U.S. (82%), followed closely by the U.K. (79%).

An ability to adapt was critical during the pandemic. Many (60%) small businesses say that they have coped well with the barriers COVID-19 placed on them, making big changes to how their business operates. Most commonly, in the U.S., 38% of small businesses said they cut overhead costs and, because of further financial barriers, 27% said they relied on their savings to make it through. This behavior was also reflected in the U.K., with 35% cutting overhead costs and 25% relying on savings. In France, the figure was 35% and 21% respectively.

Small businesses turned to technology to overcome difficulties and create efficiencies within the business. In fact, 76% of small businesses say they rely on technology. In the U.S., 64% used new technology to sell more and stay connected with customers or improve how their business operates. French small businesses used technology similarly to U.S. small businesses (67%), while 52% of small businesses in the U.K. also invested in new technologies, nearly all of whom said this increased investment improved their business.

Renewed optimism is driving hiring plans, and as small businesses grow their workforce, they will continue to look at how they can increase diversity and prioritize employee wellbeing. One-third of small businesses are expected to hire in 2021, which could create millions of jobs. When applied to ONS data on employment from small businesses, this could mean 4.6 million more jobs in the U.S., 2.4 million in France and 1.2 million in the U.K.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, small businesses are thinking more about their wider role in society, ranging from supporting employee well-being initiatives and environmental sustainability initiatives to prioritizing diversity in recruiting – with many small businesses expected to make further improvements in the upcoming year. Small businesses across the globe are increasing their focus on ways of working and employee wellness with 47% of U.S. small businesses improving flexible working, 37% of U.K. small businesses increasing support for physical wellness and 34% of French small businesses modifying recruitment initiatives to prioritize diversity.

Steve Hare, CEO of Sage Group commented:

“As the economic environment improves, optimism amongst our customers is increasing and as is their confidence to capitalize on the opportunities ahead. Small businesses are accelerating investment in people and digital technology, prioritizing flexibility, resilience and productivity. This is a clear sign they will bring the bounce back into the economy and why they need to be at the heart of any recovery plans.

We must make sure this swell of optimism is given the opportunity to become a tidal wave of growth. At Sage, we have called on governments for support and investment to accelerate the recovery of small businesses during these difficult times and made our own investments in supporting a small business led recovery.

We will make it our priority to continue listening, give unheard small businesses a voice with governments and use our time and expertise so that the economic recovery is an inclusive one.”

These findings follow The Survival, Resilience and Growth report undertaken by Sage during summer 2020, which highlighted the need to enable businesses to invest to support recovery by helping them access technology and finance.

Note to Editors:

About Sage

Sage is the global market leader for technology that provides small and medium businesses with the visibility, flexibility, and efficiency to manage finances, operations, and people. With our partners, Sage is trusted by millions of customers worldwide to deliver the best cloud technology and support. Our years of experience mean that our colleagues and partners understand how to serve our customers and communities through the good, and more challenging times. We are here to help, with practical advice, solutions, expertise, and insight. 


Portland Communications’ specialist research team recently conducted three ten-minute online surveys of 4,156 ‘Small Business Decision Makers’ in the U.S.A, U.K., France.

Sample breakdown: 2,144 Small Business Decision-makers in the U.S., 1,004 in the U.K. and 1,008 in France.
Small Business Decision-makers are owners or senior managers e.g. MD or owners of businesses employing fewer than 250 people.

Portland Communications’ online polling studies are accredited by the British Polling Council.
All data gathered is of a publishable quality.


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