The past few months have been challenging for businesses across the world, with some experiencing unusually high demand and others unusually low, as well as having to contend with COVID-19 prevention measures, social distancing, and getting employees working from home.
As we come out of lockdown, navigating the murky waters of government guidelines, laws, and recommendations whilst keeping your business profitable can be tricky. There is a certain amount of help out there for small businesses but there is also plenty that you can be doing yourselves.
The economic predictions for the next months and even years are looking bleak across many industries, and it is important that as a small business you strap yourself in and protect yourself as much as possible. This means doing what you can to reduce costs and maximise income, as well as trying to preserve as many jobs as possible.
Some ways that you can help to ensure that you are not spending money unnecessarily include:
Switching to a free bank account – according to Informi, who offers advice to small businesses, “Many people are reluctant to switch bank accounts because of the perceived hassle but these days banks are making it more attractive and much easier.”
Looking at your premises – if the majority of your staff are wanting to work from home, are productive and able to do their job properly, then you might want to consider downsizing your office‘s premises if you are renting them – or earning some extra income by letting some of your office space. You could also think about using shared workspaces, which means that you would only pay for the space when you are using it, and it is great for networking.
Embracing energy-saving measures in the workplace – make sure that you turn the lights off when you leave the room, computers off at the end of the day, turn the thermostat down by 1 or 2 degrees, and cut down on disposable cups to reduce costs and help to become greener.
Safe and Happy Workforce
Small businesses knew more than anyone else the importance of having a happy (and, therefore, productive) workforce. Post–lockdown, it is more important than ever to ensure that your workforce is happy and productive, and that means ensuring that they are and feel safe.
Check what the government guidelines are regarding your particular industry and make sure that you have put these measures in place as a minimum. You should also talk to your employees and find out how they are feeling and do what you can to help them to feel happy and safe.
This doesn’t necessarily mean spending money. It could be simple things like giving them a way to voice concerns and offer solutions. It could be implementing environmentally-friendly practices like encouraging walking to work, encouraging team bonding by doing fun activities, or boosting your business’s social responsibility and supporting local charities, for example.
It is also important to remember that in the time that we have spent in lockdown many people have been re-thinking their lives and the businesses that they want to support. We are increasingly seeing
people supporting businesses with similar morals and ethics to themselves, those who have a social responsibility and those who show that they are looking after their staff. So, by prioritising the wellbeing of your staff, you are also more likely to attract new customers.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected the world in ways that we could never have predicted, and although we can never really be sure about what is coming round the corner, it is important for small businesses especially to be as prepared as possible for any situation.
You should think about how your business might be able to survive a second wave or possible lockdown – what would you have done differently?
Think about splitting your employees if possible, should your business get hit with an outbreak of the virus and there be a need for staff to self-isolate.
It is likely that taxes will be rising to help the government to pay for the financial support that they have been giving – do you have a plan as to how you would deal with this?
It has been said often in the past few months, but these are truly unprecedented times, especially in terms of the economy. Although the initial shock of lockdown appears to be coming to an end, the post-lockdown phase is proving to be challenging in new ways.
It is essential that, as a small business, you are as prepared as possible for what will come next, keeping costs down and income as high as possible, to ensure that your business can rise to success over the coming weeks, months, and years.
- ‘The Best Free Business Bank Accounts’, Informi, https://informi.co.uk/business-administration/the-best-free-business-bank-accounts
- ‘What is Shared Workspace and What are the Benefits?’, Spaceiq, https://spaceiq.com/blog/what-is-shared-workspace/
- ‘How to Save Energy in an Office’, Ovoenergy.com, https://www.ovoenergy.com/blog/helpful-guides/how-to-save-energy-in-an-office.html
- ‘Working Safely During Coronavirus (COVID-19)’, Gov.uk, https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19
- ‘5 Great Ways to Encourage Team Bonding in the Office’, Payzone.co.uk, https://www.payzone.co.uk/blog/business-growth/5-great-ways-to-encourage-team-bonding-in-the-office/