By Daniel Hunter

4% of Britain’s SMEs have contributed to the Olympics in some way according to the latest research from BDRC Continental’s Business Opinion Omnibus.

Half of those have delivered goods to the Olympic site, with the others providing goods and services, working on the infrastructure, and providing professional — including legal — services. Businesses working in the Transport and Communications and Arts, Leisure and Other categories are most likely to have been involved in the preparations for London 2012.

SME owners are able to see both the pros and cons of hosting the Games. So whilst the vast majority of SMEs don't think the Olympics will have either a positive or negative impact on their business, amongst SMEs who think there will be an impact almost three times as many anticipate a negative outcome for their business as opposed to a positive one (13% vs to 5%).

Those businesses looking on the bright side list the following expected benefits from hosting the Olympics:

26% - enhanced security
23% - increased profit through tourism or an uplift in trade
17% - increased customer enquiries
13% - enhancements to the physical environment
12% - increased exposure through business location or relevance to Olympics
11% - improvements in transport.

For those SMEs that say the Olympics will have negative impacts on their trade, the vast majority list travel disruption as the number one issue — at 70%. Other downsides include:

29% - disruption to deliveries and logistics
22% - security measures impacting day-to-day operations
20% - staffing and resourcing concerns
14% - damage to the physical environment.

Unlike other major sporting events, Britain’s SME owners aren’t concerned about staff absenteeism to watch the event — only 2% cite absence through sickness or leave as a negative result of hosting the Olympics in Britain, compared with 19% who expected more staff to book leave during the 2010 World Cup.

London calling

At 31%, businesses based in the capital are far more likely to say that the Olympics will have a negative impact on their business. 99% - a figure rarely seen in survey results - point to travel disruption as a concern.

“There’s been much publicity around the anticipated negative impact of the Games to Britain’s businesses, particularly those in the capital," James Dunleavy of BDRC Continental said.

"However our research shows SMEs are more circumspect — anticipating positive outcomes to their business as well as recognising the possible challenges ahead. It’s great to see 4% have been involved in the Olympics supply chain so far, and hopefully many more will look back after the summer and conclude that the Games were good for business.”

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