Small Businesses and The Self-Employed

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⇓Self-Employed

⇓Small Businesses

This has been an incredibly daunting year for the self employed and owners and employees of small businesses. With most of the hospitality, retail and beauty industries being closed over the summer and once again now, and almost all other industries having had a significant loss of business even if allowed to stay open, small businesses will have taken huge financial hits. However, there is help available, and more importantly, there is hope. If you have been feeling snowed under, stressed and anxious about the future as the owner of a small business, you are far from alone. Below we have put together some tips, resources and places to reach out for support if you have been struggling.  

Immediate steps to take

Whether you are a small business owner or self employed, go through the following steps as a starting point to minimise your outgoings and prioritise you’re spending. This will go for your business and personal accounts, if they are separate. 

  1. Itemise your online bank statement to only show your outgoings. Any items that are a want, rather than a need are to be cancelled or placed on hold. Contact the supplier to see if they are able to offer a period of grace.
  2. If you rent or have a mortgage contact the agency, local council or mortgage provider to see what they can do to help. Some mortgage companies are offering a grace period of 3 months.
  3. If you have insurance, check with them to see if they can help.
  4. Review options with your accountant (if you have one)
  5. If you have a small safety cash pot and can avoid borrowing money or taking out loans then do your best to look at other options in the interim. Perhaps you could loan the money from a partner or parent.
  6. Visit food banks if you are unable to afford basic essentials, these are available in most supermarket stores.
  7. Speak with local charities offering additional support. 
  8. Get advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau

Small Businesses  – Key areas to assess

Workforce:

      • Communication is key in times of uncertainty. Ensure that you are keeping your staff regularly updated of any key developments.
      • Take the time to reach out to your key team members to check their welfare, and encourage them to be doing the same to their team members below them.
      • Ensure coms are being circulated from the top down.
      • Provide staff with useful links, such as this support hub and crisis teams if they are struggling with mental health during this uncertain time 
      • Assess remote working strategy, including asking employees to temporarily stop work or work remotely

Operation and Supply Chain

      • Review commercial property commitments and options
      • Identify alternative supply chain scenarios
      • Adapt allocations to customers and pricing strategies

Finance 

      • Review options with your accountant
      • Consider how you will continue to pay your workforce
      • Review the Government support schemes, for example the furlough scheme
      • Speak to your suppliers to see if they can offer delayed payment options
      • Speak to your insurance company to see if/how they could help

Strategy and Brand 

      • Review the trends of your customers, think through longer-term considerations around shifts in core markets or business models as a result of the pandemic
      • Consider accelerating digital implementations, for example online sales or virtual FaceTime meetings 
      • Keep your stakeholders updated
      • Stay on top of social media and currents affairs

Click here for more views on the impact of COVID-19 on UK businesses

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Keeping your business premises secure during lockdown

 

 What support is available?  

The government is offering a number of different loans for businesses that have had to close due to restrictions and lockdowns, as well as those who have managed to stay open but have had a significant fall in takings. You could be eligible for a Coronavirus grant, local restrictions support grant, or self employment income support and if you have employees, they can be placed on the government furlough scheme if you’ve had to close. It’s advisable to take advantage of these schemes and any help you can get from friends, family and business partners before opting for other loans from lending companies and banks. To see what schemes and loans you or your business is eligible for, click here https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/financial-support-for-businesses-during-coronavirus-covid-19?priority-taxon=09944b84-02ba-4742-a696-9e562fc9b29d#support-for-businesses-affected-by-coronavirus-restrictions

 

What changes can I make to my business to keep it afloat? 

 

Certain industries have actually thrived during lockdown and the pandemic. Retail online sales have boomed and many businesses offering services or products have been able to move to be completely online.

 

If you usually work face to face with clients but are unable to at the moment due to the restrictions, it’s time to get creative. Many fitness class instructors and PTs have moved their classes to zoom and Instagram lives, people who rely on meetings have also utilised virtual options such as zoom. Nail techs who can no longer work on their clients in person have offered press on designs, make up artists have offered one to one lessons virtually and anyone with a product to sell should consider, if it’s possible, to do so online instead of in store. It’s important to keep your client base in the loop with any changes you are making to your business,  so keep your websites, social media and email subsets up to date with the latest. 

 

I can’t cope and need help

If you are struggling and don’t know where to turn be reassured that there are many advisors available to offer you professional unbiased advice free of charge. You can contact them on-line or over the phone.

DON’T Deal with this alone!
Speak to the Samaritans for a friendly ear.
Call 116 123 OR email us at jo@samaritans.org

You can also visit MIND for advice