The 2012 Olympics: Opportunity or Threat to London’s Small Businesses?

Apparently 55% of small business owners in London do not think the Olympics this year will pose any disruption to their sales or operations. Only 14% were concerned about transport issues, and less than one in 10 were worried about staff availability, (according to research carried out for Deloitte).

This prompted our expert contributor, John Davis, Managing Director of Business Centric Services Group (BSCG) to investigate whether they are right not to be concerned, or whether contingency planning is advisable, by weighing up the opportunities and threats that the games may pose.


  • 11 million spectators are expected to flock to Olympic and Paralympic events in the city, generating a huge source of potential customers and spending, particularly for the tourist, leisure and catering industries

  • 500,000 visitors are expected to arrive from abroad, creating an opportunity for small businesses to raise their profile amongst a brand new pool of customers and potentially unlock the door to a global market

  •  The Olympics are expected to create a positive mood amongst consumers, driving them to spend more, which would open up a wealth of opportunities for innovative small businesses to increase their revenues


  • An additional 3 million journeys are forecast to take place in London over the seven week games period, putting pressure on the tube and bus network and potentially making access difficult for small business staff and supply / distribution networks

  • Diversions, traffic and parking restrictions may also limit small business accessibility

  • Should the Olympic Games not run smoothly or generate negative publicity, small business revenue could drop, as in the case of the 2004 Greece games

Overall the opportunities and threats are roughly balanced, but they will vary from business to business. Therefore, in order to tip the scales towards ‘Opportunity’, it is advisable that each small business assess the risks in advance and devise a management plan, based on their location in relation to event venues and individual operational dependencies. Putting aside time now to prepare will minimise the threats and increase the chances to successfully reap the many rewards that will be available.

See our business advice article on SWOT Analysis for further informtaion on analysing Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT).

John Davis is Managing Director of Business Centric Services Group (BSCG).

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