Weekly Digest – 5 August 2020

Welcome back to our Weekly Digest. We hope you and your family are safe and doing well. Read on for this week’s update.

COVID-19 Boosts Love for Small Businesses

According to new research from Small Business Britain, two-thirds (64%) of 1000 small businesses in the UK believe that the pandemic has increased support of their sector. Small businesses have played a key role in supporting communities throughout the crisis. Now, more than ever, small businesses should take the opportunity to strengthen their digital capabilities and build resilience for the uncertain times ahead.

If you need expert advice on how to pivot online to engage customers and sell more despite the pandemic, feel free to drop us a message so we can work out a plan.

COVID-19 Lending Exceeds 50 Billion Pounds

Banks’ lending to businesses under a government-backed loan scheme has surpassed 50-billion pounds, while the cost of supporting furloughed workers climbed to 33.8 billion pounds. If your business has been hit by the pandemic and you need additional funding to stay afloat, now is the time to consider your options.

£20 Million in New Grants for Small Businesses

The Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government announces £20 million new funding to help small businesses across England get back up to speed. Small- and medium-sized businesses can access grants between £1,000 – £5,000 for new equipment, technology, and specialist advice. The support will be fully funded by the government from the England European Regional Development Fund and distributed through Growth Hubs in local areas across England.

You can find more information here. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.

90-Minute Tests for COVID-19

New COVID-19 tests that can detect the virus and flu in 90 minutes will be rolled out in hospitals and care homes from next week.

The government said almost half a million of the new rapid swab tests called LamPORE will be available, with millions more set to be distributed later in the year. Additionally, thousands of DNA test machines, which have already been used in eight London hospitals and can analyse nose swabs, will be available across NHS hospitals from September.

While the world races to develop a cure for COVID-19 and a vaccine has yet to be discovered, business must go on. Reimagining your business and re-evaluating your plans and strategies will help you rise to the occasion and lead your business through these uncertain times.

Tips to Adapt Your Small Business During the Pandemic

As COVID-19 continues to impact the way businesses operate and consumers shop, many small businesses may struggle to stay afloat, let alone thrive. Below are some of the simple, yet effective, ways on how you can build a stronger brand, earn more sales, and survive in these uncertain times.

Showcase locally-made products

  • Now, more than ever, consumers want to buy from local brands to support the domestic economy. By highlighting that you are a local brand and are selling locally-made products on your website and ads, you may be able to attract some customers and boost sales

Present information that is relevant to consumers

  • Make sure that your website and marketing collateral feature key information that consumers need including product availability, speed of delivery, return policy, and shipping fees. You might also want to modify your product descriptions for them to become more relevant to your customers’ changing needs during the pandemic.

Offer online gift cards

  • As people switch to online shopping, now is a good time to offer online gift cards that will encourage them to purchase products even without going to your physical store.

Engage customers through social media

  • Connect with your customers in a time of social distancing through popular social media platforms. Stay active and post relevant content that will promote discussion to give your brand a human element.

Manage your customers’ expectations when it comes to delivery

  • Make sure that you make your customers aware of the possible delays on delivery, especially if you’ve just transitioned to ecommerce. It is better to be honest and transparent than to lose customers because of miscommunicated time estimates.

Want to discuss your specific business situation? Drop us a message so we can schedule a session to plan your business recovery.

How to Manage an Underperformer Remotely

Although many businesses are re-opening and some people are returning to the office, the work from home setup will persist. As a business leader, you will be faced with new challenges such as managing an underperformer in your remote team. This Harvard Business Review article shares some tips on how to handle such situation effectively so your operations won’t be affected:

Revisit your expectations.

  • Review your recent directives and check if you have communicated your expectations clearly and consistently from the beginning. Also, identify where the underperformer’s difficulties come from.

Learn more about them.

  • Know their goals and what they care about. Learn about their remote set-up, schedule, and home obligations so you can adjust your management approach to match their needs.

Level with them and be specific.

  • Provide feedback to give them an opportunity to actively make some changes in their practices that are not working.

Help them learn how to improve their own performance.

  • You can avoid micromanaging by using questions so they can self-assess, modify what needs to be improved, and project into their own future.

Stay in close enough contact.

  • Stay in touch regularly and keep them in the loop. If you feel like you’re not getting a good read on your team member’s state of mind because you communicate mostly via email or chat messages, plan some of your interactions by phone and listen intently. The tone of their voice will give you more clues about what needs intervention.

If you need more techniques to strengthen your relationship with your team, improve performance, and consequently boost your business results, feel free to get in touch with us.

Temporary VAT Cut for Food, Non-Alcoholic Drinks, Accommodation, and Attractions

In case you missed it, there will be a temporary reduction to the Standard Rate of VAT from 20% to 5% for supplies of food and non-alcoholic drinks from restaurants, pubs, bars, cafes, and the hospitality sector across the UK. This move is designed to increase customer demand in response to the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is great news for the hospitality industry as they start to reopen, albeit on a reduced capacity basis. If you need some guidance on how to operate safely after a period of inaction, you may visit this resources page by the national tourism agency, which focuses on practical guidance for reopening during the pandemic. Meanwhile, if you need personalised business advice on how to bounce back stronger, feel free to drop us a message.

What funding is available for my business?

With two-thirds of UK companies being completely operational, but many still in a state of acute financial distress, the government continues to provide support for their recovery.

To cover the impact of the crisis, there are grants made available by the government such as the £1.25b Future Fund and R&D rescue package for fast growth businesses and smaller businesses with a Research & Development focus.

There is also the Small Business Grant Fund, which is a one-off grant of £10,000 that supports small businesses that pay little or no business rates as a result of small business rate relief (SBBR), rural rate relief (RRR), and tapered relief. Businesses in the retail, hospitality, and leisure industries that use premises with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000, and will therefore pay no business rates for the current year, will receive grants of £25,000 from their Local Authority. For further details on eligibility and payment arrangements, kindly contact your local authority.

If your business has been severely hit by COVID-19 and you need more support, the government is giving small- and medium-sized businesses access to financial support through various initiatives such as the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS), where you can get up to £50,000 no-interest loans for the first 12 months. Approximately 1.08 million smaller firms have received a total of £32.79 billion through this scheme.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offers a maximum loan of £5 million made available through commercial banks, lenders have provided £12.2 billion worth of facilities to 55,674 companies. Meanwhile, the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme has approved 428 loans worth £2.89 billion.

You can also claim for 80% of your employee’s wages plus any employer National Insurance and pension contributions if you have put them on furlough because of COVID-19 under the Job Retention Scheme, which has been extended until the end of October. You can check your eligibility here.

With all the financial assistance schemes available for businesses, it can be difficult to assess which one is suitable for your business. Let us help you evaluate your options.

Watch out for COVID-19 scams

Scammers are taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to con people into giving their money or confidential personal information. Here are some of the Covid-19 scams to look out for:

  • Scams offering COVID-19 testing, vaccine, or cure
  • Fake charities
  • “Person in need” scams
  • Scams targeting Social Security benefits

While the reason behind the fraud is new, the tactics are familiar. The best defence is to say No if anyone contacts you asking for your bank account information, credit card details, or driver’s licence number; someone you don’t know requests money through payment app or pre-paid gift cards; someone you don’t know sends you a cheque for some reason and asks you to send a portion back; or simply your gut tells you that it is too good to be true or it doesn’t feel right.

On the Bright Side…

We’re now in the third quarter of 2020 and we are still in the grips of a global pandemic– leaving many scared, frustrated, and struggling. However, among the dire news, there have been a few bright spots, as this article points out, with a listing of 100 positive things that have happened so far in 2020. For example, drive-in movie theatres are showing a resurgence, adoption and fostering of homeless animals has risen, and museums around the world have opened for virtual tours.

We understand that this year seems incredibly hard, and it surely doesn’t feel like a moment when you can easily see the glass as half full or make lemonade out of lemons. While it’s okay to not be okay, we encourage you to find the silver linings.

Get in touch

Contact us if you have any questions or want to discuss the next steps for your business.