Following the recent announcement from Prime Minister Boris Johnson detailing new lockdown restrictions from the 5th November, we’ve put together 6 points of advice for local businesses.
However, if you feel worried about your business and need support, please make sure you contact our dedicated team for impartial and transparent guidance or visit our Coronavirus support page.
1. Take advantage of Government support programmes.
Such as COVID small business grants (launching soon, delivered by Black Country Growth Hub), Coronavirus Local Restrictions Support Grants, the extended Job Retention Scheme or the Kickstart Scheme if you are looking to create 30 or more jobs within your business. If you want to create less than 30 jobs, fill in our form here.
We understand there are quite a few business support programmes and options available at the moment so if you are feeling overwhelmed or unsure which is the best option for you – please get in touch with our team to talk it over, we can help you find the best course of action and put you in touch with the right people.
2. Think outside the box and plan ahead.
If you can’t offer a particular service, you might be able to offer it in a different way. For example, in the previous national lockdown certain businesses which offer workshops or exhibitions, such as Festival of Enterprise, simply switched to offering online versions of those services which both saved money and propelled them into a new marketplace. Another business who offered cake-making classes started to produce boxes which included pre-measured ingredients and instructions, so that people could order the box to their home and make the cakes there instead.
It might also be a good time to take a different approach to your business, for example, if you are relying on a specific supplier and you know the second lockdown will cause an issue with this – it would be beneficial to try and find a supplier based in a country with fewer restrictions or somewhere more local where you can guarantee delivery/production.
3. Find new ways to reach customers.
More traditional businesses might rely on face to face meetings and demonstrations to market their products but in order to get through another lockdown, you should consider your online presence. It can be a daunting task to enter the online world but it’s worth it – you could unlock a whole new audience or find a new way to demonstrate your products and services.
Using social media can be a great (and mostly free) way to show the behind-the-scenes of your business or to show your passion for what you do. This can help you to connect with your audience and may influence them to make a purchase, for instance if you create jewellery with local flowers or stones, showing the area where your items are sourced is a good way to show your authenticity.
As we are approaching the festive season, the usual Christmas craft markets will not be able to go ahead but many of them are now going virtual. You could potentially reach a new audience by attending an online craft market from the safety of your own home.
If you struggle to get to grips with going online, don’t worry, there are some great programmes and free resources that can help you (such as Digital Boost or Marketing Donut) or you can contact our team who will advise the best way forward. You can also try our easy diagnostic tool here.
4. Explore the option of taking out a loan.
There are two loan programmes which have been created in response to the COVID19 disruption; the Coronavirus Interruption Business Loans (CBILS) and the Bounce Back Loans (BBLS). These loan schemes have been put in place to help UK SME’s borrow money quickly with little to no interest, in order to help maintain their business in the long-term.
If you’d like to know more about these schemes, please get in touch with our team who will be able to discuss it with you and advise you on your next steps. We have already helped a number of businesses apply for these schemes, including JCM Fine Joinery from Halesowen, who are currently in the process of growing their business despite the pandemic.
5. Try to put agreements in place with both suppliers and customers.
If you are able to provide a pre-order option for products or services, this could act as a buffer and avoid your business being out of pocket. In most cases, if you explain beforehand or offer a slight discount, customers are happy to wait for a high-quality product or service.
You could also try to make agreements with suppliers in advance which would allow you to negotiate payment terms and reduce costs. This can help you to build strong business relationships, resulting in a reliable link between you and your suppliers.
6. If in doubt, get in touch!
If you’d rather discuss your situation with someone, please get in touch with our dedicated business support team. We are a transparent and impartial guide for businesses and individuals in the Black Country. We work with a wide range of partners, including local and national Government. This means we can hopefully point you in the right direction to get your business back on track.
You can contact us on 0300 770 2245 or at firstname.lastname@example.org