Small businesses are likely to be the biggest casualties in the wake of the Coronavirus. Given their size it is unlikely that they will have a business continuity plan in place that they can implement in challenging times. On top of this, small businesses will face the biggest difficulties if funding streams are restricted, credit lines reduced or supply chain interrupted. So what support can you offer to small businesses in the wake of Coronavirus or indeed any future challenge?
Training is a good place to start
If small businesses are used to carrying out their business with people face to face, they may need to think about how they can work in a digital environment instead. Give them the tools to make them as efficient as other businesses. There is a lot that can be achieved by using Zoom (an online meeting platform) for example which has lots of interactive features to enable you to carry out a very effective online meeting. Although it is in a virtual space it offers many benefits. By getting small businesses to be digital, for service based businesses that don’t involve food, this can be one way to meet the challenges that Coronavirus might bring, head on. If appropriate, small businesses may be able to recruit short term support through a freelancing platform like People Per Hour to help with their business needs during coronavirus. This may be particularly helpful if they employ a small number of staff who may need to be signed off sick, self isolate, or who cannot work from home. These digital skills will be helpful to them long after the virus has died out.
Where a small business has a workforce who come to a physical premises to work, they might now need to be able to work from home. Small businesses would be wise to get their employees to look at increasing their broadband coverage now, so that their internet connection is suitable for the work that they might need to do from home. They might also need equipment to enable them to be able to work from home, so investment in more IT equipment could be necessary.
Similarly, they may need funding advice. Natwest (or what was RBS) has recently announced a package of support such as loan repayment holidays for businesses or as well as temporary emergency loans to support small businesses.
- Provide them with a list of funding opportunities or short term loan or lending support that they might be able to apply for in the interim while the coronavirus continues to spread
- Encourage them to make sure that they are staying in contact with their suppliers and vendors and where relevant that the most important accounts are being contacted regularly. This is vital for their business health and something that they should always be doing but even more so at the moment
- Suggest that any downtime they have or if they are forced to temporarily close, that they spend the time working on their marketing plans, their campaign plans and other business activities that can help them get going again once the closure is lifted.
Offer a dedicated telephone number for enquiries
Some businesses may find that they are not covered by business protection insurance which could offer cover against business losses under certain circumstances. Should social distancing become enforced, there are businesses that may be seriously impacted by these choices such as cafes, coffee shops, and health and fitness industry such as yoga instructors. Any business that relies on face to face contact is liable to be impacted.
Provide a mentoring service
There might be some solutions for these small businesses, that they have not thought of or invested in yet. For example in the health industry, they may be able to offer 1-2-1 instructor led tuition from a virtual meeting call, it could be a perfect time to diversify and roll out a new service offering, which still enables the business to make money. By providing a drop in mentoring service, you can offer your local SMEs the opportunity to discover new short term opportunities for their business.
We deliver training course and post training support to start up businesses, small businesses and market traders to name a few. We are passionate about training businesses to give them the tools to be a success, not just in year 1 or year 3 but to have a sustainable business that can last. Complete a contact form here or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.