COVID-19: Business as (un)usual

Five things small businesses should consider before they reopen

28 May 2020
5 minute read

Emma McCarthy

The last few months have been filled with stress and anxiety for small business owners in every industry, with some even having to close their doors permanently, but there have been countless examples of small businesses who have found new ways to adapt their business models as well as many who have offered their space, skills and resources to support charitable causes – some of which you can read about our on blog here.

As we progress through a phased reopening of the UK, small business owners will need to start thinking about the future and what the ‘new normal’ looks like. Together with our Head of Sales, Igor Makarov, we have put together our top tips on how small business owners can prepare for a slow, safe and sustainable return to ‘normality’. 

Keep an eye on public health advice 
It may sound obvious, but it is important to monitor the guidance from public health officials so you can ensure your business adheres to the latest policies that are in place. This will also help to provide much-needed reassurance to your employees, as well as build confidence and trust with your customers, so they know you are operating in the safest way possible for everyone involved. You can find the latest UK Government advice on everything COVID-19 related here.

Refresh your business plan 
Some small businesses have made big changes to see their business continue to operate during lockdown. However, its worth considering if these changes can be maintained even as your business reopens, as well as thinking about how you can bring in other revenue streams. Here are some things to consider: set up an e-commerce site, take online bookings, apply for an outdoor license to help with social distancing. The possibilities are endless – use this opportunity to get creative so your business can bounce back even stronger than before!

Consider your customers 
It is likely that international travel will be restricted for a while, which means fewer tourists. The elderly and vulnerable will also be under restrictions for a few months yet so it is worth considering who your customers will be and how that will affect your business. It may mean a change in menu, a flexible delivery service (including international delivery, depending on your offering), or a tweak to your product to keep it relevant for your core customer base.  

Make the most of free marketing 
It is a well-known fact that social media is a powerful resource, but this may be more important now than ever. Increase your social media following by posting engaging content, photos and updates to build up anticipation ahead of your re-opening. Your loyal customers will be the first ones to support you and will likely help to spread the word if you catch their attention – you could even consider a 'refer a friend’ model so you can reach as many people as possible. 

Prepare your finances 
Many small businesses have taken out Government-backed loans such as the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), which Liberis is now accredited for, or the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS). These are great to help bridge cashflow but it’s important to think about your future finances too, particularly as footfall and online orders increase, so you can make sure you have enough stock to meet demand. It is worth considering flexible finance options that work with cashflow so you can find your feet without committing to fixed payments every month. 

There will be an adjustment period for every small business in the coming months, but if there’s one thing lockdown has reminded us, it’s the importance of connection. Whether it’s in person or online, showing that you care and building an emotional connection with existing and prospecting customers will mean more than ever before and ensuring that your employees feel happy and safe in their working environment. For further advice on this we have a blog on mental health awareness during this time here.

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