A year after the start of the pandemic, PME Magazine joined More Results, a specialized company in market research, and, together, launch the barometer about “The reality of Portuguese companies”. With a sample of 351 small and medium-sized enterpresies (SMEs), the barometer reveals the reality experienced by SMEs in various áreas, where it was found that 43,5% of companies planned to hire in the first three months of the year, namely for the areas of operation (51,1%) and sales (35,9%).
After the Government releasing several support measures, most of the inquired companies admit to have resorted to at least one of the measures available during 2020, with emphasis on the simplified layoff. In addition, regarding resort to banking in 2021, more than half of the companies under analysis said they feel optimistic and believe that will not be essential. Also, those who identified this need (13,4%) had investments as the objective, and, only after, the replacement of values and treasury.
Even so, there was a registration of declined sales in 2020 compared to 2019, although some improvements were identified in the last quarter of the year. When talking about the first quarter of 2021, there was a moderate uncertainty, although 41% of respondents say they believe in the growth, or, at least, in maintaining the levels of revenue recorded in 2019.
With regard to teleworking, which was implemented in the beginning of the first confinement, most of the companies under analysis agreed it had a negative impact on team spirit, even though there was the perception of positive elements in the balance between personal and professional loves. On productivity, opinions are divided with 37% not considering they are more productive in telework and 39% thinking they are.
Regarding the impact on the staff on the inquired companies, despite the majority (63,5%) not register any changes in the last quarter of 2020, the reductions reached 20% of the total of SMEs under analysis.
Regarding marketing and sales, with the average budget allocated to marketing between 6,5% and 10%, 24% of companies revealed to be in this range, despite the restraint that the pandemic forced. However, 57,8% allocated less than the average.
Marketing investments made in que fourth quarter of 2020 had a larger share of the SME budget allocated to social media campaigns and to trade marketing. When asked about the investments planned for 2021, the majority of these companies revealed that their intention was not going beyond 10%. The social media and search engines campaigns were, for these companies, the areas where they kept their investment.
With regard to the 2021 challenges, sales were the main identified challenge, followed by team cohesion and digital transformation. In order to have a more general perception, the surveyed companies revealed themselves as pessimistic, especially those of accommodation, restaurants and similar, those that have been existing for between 11 and 15 years, and companies with a turnover of more than 10 million euros.
Based on the collected information, an index of optimism was built. It indicates us that the inquired companies are still undecided and moderately pessimistic, although they plan to hire, to restore/maintain billing levels, or to invest in marketing, the degree of uncertainty resulting from the pandemic, leads them to be cautious in their predictions for 2021.
The complete study is available upon request to firstname.lastname@example.org.