The impact of the COVID-19-hit economy has been felt acutely across sectors. The recovering economy was dealt a heavy blow as increasing cases led to localized lockdowns in the second wave. Startups, and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are some of the worst-hit. As many as 59 percent of startups and MSMEs are likely to scale down, shut down or sell themselves this year, as mentioned in a survey. Around 41 percent are out of funds or have less than a month’s funds left, while 49 percent of startups and MSMEs are planning to reduce their employee compensation and benefits costs by July.
“Second wave of COVID-19, related lockdowns and curfews and their concomitant impact on the economy have once again brought along very high levels of uncertainty, struggles and challenges for Startups and MSMEs to find growth in their business and gather the necessary funds and capital to run their operation,” stated LocalCircles that conducted the survey.
The survey found that when asked where they see their business heading in the next six months, 59 percent of startups and MSMEs said that they expect to scale down, shut down, or sell off. Out of that 37 percent said they would scale down, 14 percent said they would shut down and 8 percent said they would sell-off. Only 22 percent of startups and MSMEs see growth in their business. They are most likely to be engaged in online sales, health, FMCG, or digital payments. Out of the respondents, 19 percent did not have an opinion.
When asked about how long they can continue with the cash in hand based on the current monthly operating costs, 33 percent said they have less than a month worth of cash, whereas 8 percent said they are already out of cash. As many as 22 percent have more than 3 months of cash, while 11 percent have for over 6 months and 37 percent have funds for 1-3 months.
The survey sought to find from respondents their plans for the next 2 months or what they have done in the past 2 months to better prepare to sustain their business. Reducing advertising, marketing, and new initiative costs were the preferences for 7 percent, while 9 percent said they would reduce employee compensation and benefits costs, and 13 percent said reducing other fixed operational costs. Breaking down the responses, 7 percent chose Options 1 and 2, while 13 percent chose 2 and 3 and 33 percent chose 1, 2, and 3 options. LocalCircles stated that per aggregate response suggests that 49 percent of startups and MSMEs plan to reduce employee compensation and benefits costs by July.
When asked if the government should let PSUs provide price escalation on all MSME/small business contracts where the supply of commodities like steel, copper is involved, 88 percent said yes. Moreover, 92 percent of small businesses want the Centre to extend government/PSU contracts by 3-6 months as there has been a delay due to lack of labor force.
The survey was conducted to gauge the challenges faced by startups and MSMEs amid the pandemic. The survey received more than 11,000 responses from over 6,000 startups and MSMEs across 171 districts in India.