If you’re a UK business owner, you can fail to feel concerned about what the future might hold after the coronavirus.
Even if your business was thriving before the virus hit, it’s more than likely that you are struggling to stay afloat or that you’re even facing bankruptcy.
Having said that, it’s not all bad news.
The restrictions are slowly lifting, consumer confidence is improving and the economy is showing signs of improvement already, despite the social distancing measures that remain in place.
With this in mind, here’s some advice that can help businesses get back on their feel and return to full strength now that the lockdown is over.
Work on improving your cash flow
If your business is paying out more than it brings in, it’s going on a fast spiral towards failure and potentially bankruptcy. That’s why getting your cash flow in the positive should be your main focus after the lockdown.
Because businesses were closed for so long, many businesses just like yours have found themselves struggling to cover overheads such as staff wages, rent and utility bills and even paying their suppliers. Even though various government schemes have helped to ease this significantly, the problem is far from over.
Luckily, there are a few ways you can move back into the black.
- Chase up outstanding invoices and ask them to pay ASAP. Many invoices will have been forgotten because people weren’t physically in the office. Often a quick message will do the trick.
- Consider changing your payment terms so you can get paid more quickly. Could you shorten the terms to a fortnight after invoice instead of a month?
- Think about applying for government help: You could apply for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to help you get through the difficult times. This isn’t an instant solution but it’s worth considering.
Fix your internet connection
There’s nothing quite as frustrating and harmful to your business as an internet connect that is slow or unreliable, as the coronavirus lockdown has clearly shown.
There’s simply no way you can conduct Zoom meetings, maintain a new online platform, optimise your home delivery service, serve your customers and communicate with your staff if your internet isn’t performing as it should be.
Now that the lockdown has come to an end, it’s the perfect opportunity to tweak your existing connection or consider making a switch so you can provide optimal service for your clients, customers and staff and get back on your feed.
Start by testing your current speed. To do this, you can simply Google ‘internet speed test’ and you’ll be able to access the results in seconds.
“Ideally, the download and upload speeds that you record when you use these sites will be a close match to the speeds that your service provider has told you to expect. If they are not, you need to go back to them and find out why.” advise leading broadband comparison site, Broadband and Phones.
Once you have this information, you can take steps to resolve it. Sometimes it’s as easy as moving your router or rearranging the office. Other times, you’ll need to switch providers.
Protect your staff & customers
As a business owner, it’s your job to ensure that your customers and staff feel safe and protected from the coronavirus. This will allow customers to return back to your premises and for your staff to return to work more effectively. When you do this, you’ll also send a clear message to the world that you’re a proactive business who can be trusted.
To do this, you’ll need to make sure you have the basics in place. This includes:
- Asking staff and customers to wear masks
- Enforcing social distancing
- Providing hand sanitiser
The UK government has also created some excellent guidelines for reopening in all sectors that can provide more specific help for your business.
Businesses may be returning to normal but kids still haven’t returned to school and can’t attend their usual holiday clubs. This means that juggling the multiple responsibilities of home and work are likely to be much more challenging, at least for now.
For that reason, it’s worth trying to be as flexible as possible with your staff. Perhaps you could allow them to work from home for at least part of the week. Allow them to work more flexible hours to help them manage childcare. Or even allow them to be more specific about which shift patterns they can work and aim to work around them.
Of course, this won’t always be possible. Ultimately the needs of your business will have to come first. But whatever you can do will show your staff that you genuinely care, give them the support they need, build team spirit and help them minimise their stress levels.
This translates to more focused, less stressed, more creative staff that can achieve their full potential and push your business forward.
Opening your doors and getting your business on track after the long months of lockdown isn’t always going to be easy. But by working on your cash flow, improving your internet connection, protecting your staff and customers and being as flexible as possible, you can get through these difficult times and look forward to a brighter future.