Posted on 31st March 2020
With the far-reaching implications of a pandemic and UK “lock-down” for business, a lot of marketing messaging has been very much ‘business as usual.’ But as events have seen many businesses close their doors, the current climate has transformed into ‘business unusual.’
Every business has had to change the way that they operate in some form or another. However, in a world of uncertainty lies a world of opportunity. Although things seem gloomy at the moment, let’s concentrate on what we ‘can’ do now, as opposed to what might happen in the unpredictable future.
Establish what your war chest is.
As a business owner or self-employed individual, you need to take things back to the basics. As many are uncertain about the future, it’s a sensible idea to look at how far your business can get into the future before things turn sour.
Get in touch with your accountant/business adviser as soon as you can and map out your current financial situation. Look at what cash reserves you have and how long these can last you. Taking into consideration overheads, variable costs and any income that might still be coming in.
If your war chest turns out not to be as sturdy as you first imagined, start looking for potential sources of finance to fill that cash hole now. Just in case things stay shut a little longer than expected. On point 4, we talk about how the government can help, but talking to trusted accountants, funders or financial intermediaries may help you identify fixes for your finances in the immediate term.
Stay in touch with your team.
Isolation can be mentally challenging even for the most strong-minded individuals. Employee morale, especially when working from home, is going to be one of the main driving forces to maintaining a productive team and high spirit. So, keep in touch. Whether it’s via a WhatsApp group, daily zoom calls or a simple text message, keep your staff speaking to each other.
Can’t work from home? Plan and reflect.
Sadly, not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to work from home. But this doesn’t mean that you should be stuck with no work to do at all. This is the perfect opportunity to plan for the future. Are there any current processes you could make more efficient? New markets that could be tapped into? An area that you’ve been lagging in? A project that you think could add value to the business? Whatever it is, use this free time to your advantage.
We all tend to let ourselves get so busy, that we forget to stop and smell the flowers every once in a while. Use this time to reflect on everything you’ve accomplished this year. Use it to think about things that you could’ve done a bit better. Things that you haven’t been spending enough time on or tasks that you should be paying more attention to. This is the perfect opportunity to indulge yourself in self-improvement and come out with a fresh and positive mindset.
Take all the government help that you can get.
Unlike some governments, the UK government hasn’t turned a blind eye on SMEs. The Federation of Small Businesses lists a variety of different schemes to help you get by such as:
- Self-Employed people can now obtain Universal Credit at a rate equal to Statutory Sick Pay for employees.
- Tax self-assessments have been delayed until Jan 2021 for the self-employed.
- A job preservation scheme to cover up to 80% of wage costs for a free month period or longer.
- Business loans and grants to small businesses.
- Deferred VAT through to the end of June.
For more details on the schemes go to: https://www.fsb.org.uk/campaign/covid19.html
UK regulation and process is ever evolving – As a business owner, it is imperative that you keep up to date with the most recent advice and schemes. The FSB, GOV.uk and Government briefings can provide essential up to date advice.
Stay safe and remember, put people before profits.
The most important thing to remember amidst all of this, is to stay safe! The way you treat your staff, customers and stakeholders now, during a time of crisis, will be remembered long into the future. Selfishly short-changing someone now, will affect how your business is portrayed significantly. And when everything is back to normal, people won’t forget how they were treated. So, do the right thing and follow the government guidelines, and where possible, give something back to those that have been giving to you over the years and to those who need it most.