Small businesses fear revenue falls and digital transformation challenge
despite Covid-19 recovery
New Grant Thornton Ireland research shows half of Irish businesses face drop in revenue this year.
The Grant Thornton Irish Business Voice Programme report identifies inefficient business processes
and access to a skilled workforce as key challenges to growth.
18th October: Irish businesses across the country have reported a continued decline in revenue, with
process inefficiencies and access to talent posing the biggest challenges to their post-Covid recovery.
The concerns were revealed in the inaugural Grant Thornton Irish Business Voice Programme survey
of local business, carried out in partnership with local Chambers of Commerce across Ireland,
Some 51% of businesses surveyed for the Irish Business Voice Programme revealed they expect their
revenue will decrease this year, with 40% of those expecting revenue to decrease by 20% or more.
The fall-off in revenue comes in spite of an extension to Government supports such as the Wage
Subsidy Scheme and a better-than-expected rebound forecasted in the wider economy in the second
half of the year.
In addition to the expected drop-off in revenue, a number of areas of key concern were identified in
the analysis of the survey responses gathered across June and July this year. Business process
inefficiencies, access to a skilled workforce, and the implementation of sustainable development
goals were all cited as significant issues.
Technology & Digital Transformation
More than three-quarters (76%) of survey respondents indicated business process inefficiencies
were a concern. These range from Brexit regulatory changes; challenges of business automation; and
streamlining new technologies required to support remote working.
The responses to the Irish Business Voice Programme echo similar figures gathered in research
carried out on mid-size Irish businesses for Grant Thornton Ireland’s International Business Report
(IBR) in the first half of 2021. The IBR data found 48% of mid-size Irish businesses planned to invest
in technology over the coming 12 months, while 38% also said they would invest in automation and
digital ways to do business as a priority.
Speaking on the findings of the Grant Thornton Irish Business Voice Programme, Aengus Burns,
Partner in Financial Services Advisory at Grant Thornton Ireland said, “It is becoming more and
more clear that the impact of Covid-19 will be felt long into the future. Different business sectors
have experienced varied pressures during the Covid-19 Pandemic.
“Technology and digital transformation are rightly being identified as central to the sustained growth
of businesses across Ireland.”
“Talent attraction features a significant hurdle to growth in the Grant Thornton Ireland Business
Voice Programme. With new technology, and the now widespread hybrid working model, new
opportunities to attract skilled workers can also be realised.”
Access to Skilled Workforce
Almost three-quarters (74%) of businesses had some level of concern about accessing a skilled
workforce, while of those 25% indicated a serious concern on the issue. With the continued drop in
unemployment month-on-month in the third quarter of this year, analysis shows businesses will
need to be flexible on how they recruit talent, and strategically manage their internal employee
communications and future of work practices.
Furthermore, implementing and managing sustainable development goals was cited as a challenge
by 70% of respondents, recognising the drive for sustainability being felt across all industries.
On a more positive note, more than half of businesses said they had no concerns about tax
compliance and regulatory requirements in the Business Voice Programme survey; 50% also said
they had no concerns about supply chain complexity despite widespread delays in supply chains over
the past 12 months.
Following on from the Irish Business Voice Programme, Grant Thornton Ireland will host a number of
events for small businesses in partnership with Chambers of Commerce across the country in the
For more information and to access the full Grant Thornton Irish Business Voice Programme report,
please visit here