Feb 12, 2021

What can SMEs outside of Ireland’s bigger cities do to prepare for a post-pandemic landscape? Linda Doran outlines a five-step plan. 

The timetable for Ireland’s COVID-19 vaccination programme is firming up. No doubt there will be ups and downs. However, business owners and entrepreneurs are starting to realise that we are roughly two-thirds of the way through the crisis.

It is essential, therefore, to think about a business plan for the post-pandemic business landscape.

Outlined below are five keys points for a post-pandemic plan for small businesses outside of the country’s cities:

  1. Get ready for the ‘staycation’Counties all over the country are known for their tourism, from the Wild Atlantic way to Ireland’s ancient east. It is important that businesses in all regions remember where its strengths lie, and for 2021 this will involve capitalising on ‘staycations’. Foreign travel looks unlikely and areas outside of Dublin are well-placed to attract strong domestic tourist numbers.
  2. Protect local jobsUnemployment is the biggest issue the county will face in the second half of 2021. We need to treat the cash flow boost from the staycation spend as the springboard that will keep as many local businesses afloat as possible. For the most vulnerable or worst hit businesses, this may involve a local Circuit Court examinership process or the Government’s new Summary Rescue Process, due to be introduced in the latter part of the year. One way or another, we need to protect the most vulnerable businesses in our communities.
  3. Get young people back into the workforceProtecting businesses will facilitate getting as many young people back into the workforce as possible. The younger generation have shouldered an enormous burden in the crisis, in terms of both educational and work opportunities. To avoid a lost generation, we need to do everything we can to bring young people back into the productive local economy.
  4. Look for sustainable recoveryLooking medium-term, we need to be ready for the bounce back. However, we must avoid a Celtic Tiger-esque mini-boom. A sustainable recovery is required; we need to be wary of inflation and the increase in interest rates that inevitably follows, as the pent-up demand in Ireland is unleashed.
  5. Get ready for ‘2022 normal’We need to be ready for what “2022 Normal” will look like. It is likely we will see more flexibility in terms of working from home arrangements, less business travel, more video conferencing, more online selling and less appetite for waste or non-productive areas of business.

All small businesses need to adapt, evolve and be ready for these challenges. The light that we can finally see at the end of the tunnel should form the basis for a bright future for all counties, but only if the planning starts now.