As Ireland continues to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, its entrepreneurs and family owned businesses will play a huge role in the jobs-led recovery of the economy. The resilience of Irish businesses over the past year and a half has been remarkable, dealing with the challenges of both Brexit and the pandemic while continuing to innovate and make new strides in sustainability and digital transformation. Currently, the Government is targeting a eight to ten percent unemployment rate for next year, down from the current 22 percent rate. It also wants to see 2.4 million in unemployment by 2024, which is significantly higher than pre pandemic levels. KPMG tax partner Olivia Lynch believes that Irelands entrepreneurs, family owned businesses, and small business will be crucial in helping the Irish economy to recover and meet these goals. Lynch also leads KPMG’s private enterprise sector and believes that the Government is aware of the need to support these types of businesses moving forward.
Small businesses and entrepreneurships are a critical part of the backbone of Ireland’s society and economy. Lynch says “There are 160,000 family businesses in Ireland employing 938,000 people, that’s close to half of all employment in the country, and it is very important that the sector gets the support it needs as we recover from the pandemic.” The support, she says, should be aimed to help businesses to invest in digital transformation, diversity, and overseas expansion, but the most pressing issue is liquidity. A tax or other measure to support liquidity could be a saving grace for businesses, allowing them to look into things like digital transformation and overseas expansion while facing challenges due to reduced capacity laws imposed by COVID restrictions.
However, the pandemic hasn’t been all bad for these businesses. The gift of time has been the greatest benefit brought on by the pandemic. The gift of time has allowed business owners to step back from the day to day proceedings of their business and look towards the future. Business owners have been able to focus on things like expanding markets and product offerings, and focus on digital transformation, which is extremely important given the rapid changes in consumer behavior brought on by COVID. Lynch says “The smartest businesses I see are those with one eye on some kind of exit or investment event. For a business to be attractive to investors it has to have the right people, the right organisation and governance structure, and be obsessive about the needs of the customer. That’s what it’s all about. And we see that in Irish businesses.” There is also a large amount of cash available looking for investment opportunities, and the most appealing investments are those businesses with their eyes set on the future. Businesses that have used the time given by the pandemic wisely by focusing on innovation are sure to benefit from increased investment and support as Ireland continues to reopen and recover.