Peter Buckle, Chartered Financial Planner & Certified Financial Planner & Principal of Buckle & Partners Ltd, advises how small businesses and entrepreneurs can survive the Covid-19 pandemic
Despite the latest efforts from governments and the World Bank, global stock markets are crashing around us. Small businesses and entrepreneurs are already experiencing significant cash flow pressures as businesses along the supply chain are impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
So what steps can the savvy small business owner or entrepreneur take to prepare?
The first thing to look at is wellbeing – yours and that of employees as well as your customers.
Arm yourself with reliable information about Covid-19
What is coronavirus, what are the symptoms and how can you or your managers spot them in others? The UK government’s website is full of regularly updated information.
Advocate good practice about hand-washing
Print off copies of the government-approved hand-washing poster (www.fsb.org.uk) and make sure these are visible around the workspace.
At home energy
As the nation is working from home ensure you have regular calls, encourage more communications and put in practices to help support their mental wellbeing. For instance encourage a social chat, virtual group yoga or look at new fitness activities, for instance, Jon Denoris owner of Club 51 has just launched The 2 Minute Micro Work Out to encourage giving home workers boosts of energy to invigorate and energise throughout the day.
Communicate with your employees, customers and everyone in the supply chain
This is a stressful time for most people. We’re not only worried about the virus itself and the potential effects to vulnerable members of our community, but we’re also worried about the impact on the economy and the lifestyle we take for granted.
So as a responsible employer, communicate with the people you work with. Tell them what measures you are taking to protect their well-being and how they can help themselves. Make sure you have an updated list of phone numbers, emails and emergency contact details.
Ask colleagues to share their concerns. This approach will also work well with suppliers – tackle any problems head-on.
Open, honest communications will go a long way.
Look at what protection is out there
Check your business insurance policy
Do you have Business Interruption Cover should you need to close? Covid-19 is defined as a ‘notifiable disease’ – check with your provider that you are covered or if you need to pay any additional premiums.
Budget 2020 support
The recent budget included a number of key measures with the aim of supporting small businesses through this tough period. These include additional funding support for small businesses and entrepreneurs in financial distress, 100% discounted business rates as well as refunds for those needing to access Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). For more information see the UK government’s website.
The final step is evolution – take steps to ensure your business can adapt to this challenging working environment.
Embrace working from home technologies
There are a number of organisational leaders such as Google and Microsoft, making their services available for free. Start-ups Slack and Zoom are also expanding the free services of their video-conferencing offers.
Bid for investment from others
Love or loathe them, industry giants are taking steps to protect their small business customers, offering their products for free or discounted prices. On the 17 March Facebook announced a new $100 million programme to help small businesses hit by Covid-19. Offering up to 30,000 grants in over 30 countries, Facebook aims to help businesses overcome current challenges and stay connected to their customers. The application process will open in the next few weeks.
’m not alone in thinking that here in the UK, we like to be ahead of a trend. But the reality is, with this pandemic we are in the fortunate position to be behind other countries in the onset and impact of the virus. In short, we can learn from others.
As small business owners, this gives us an opportunity. Reach out via social media to your industry counterparts or even competitors in other countries and find out where they are in this economic journey. When did they start seeing the first signs of recovery? Learn from their insights and share any of your own.
This is a global pandemic and one we can only overcome by thinking large scale. If you’ve not already got them, this is a great opportunity to build international networks and mentoring groups for support now and into the future.
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