Small businesses are certainly feeling the pinch during the Coronavirus lockdown. But happily, there are plenty of measures which have been introduced by the government and by private bodies alike to help firms to stay in business.
With no end to the Covid-19 storm in sight, now is definitely the right time to shore up your business with as many supportive measures as possible.
Pay it Forward
Crowdfunder recognised that it was challenging to support smaller businesses within communities, so its new #PayItForward campaign has been created to let businesses create their own crowdfunding pages – without charges. In fact, for the duration of the crisis, Crowdfunder will cover all applicable platform and transaction fees. The platform has already allowed over 80,000 businesses, charities, community projects and people to raise money, so its model is a proven one. As an SME, you can use Crowdfunder’s tools and tech to sell your products and services. Customers can book and pay now, and then redeem their purchase when lockdown ends.
Stock Up Small
Launched by Real Handful snacks, a Manchester-based business, this campaign encourages customers to use small and local businesses during the lockdown period. The #stockupsmall initiative has rapidly gained traction online and the STOCKUP discount code is being used by businesses to offer a promotional 15% off orders. To be part of it, simply ask to have your local business added to the #stockupsmall directory.
Eating out, but in
The government is waiving planning permission rules for twelve months so that cafes, pubs and restaurants can operate as takeaways and offer a delivery service. As ar result, various delivery platforms are offering relaxed rules for the duration. For example, Just Eat is offering a 30-day programme of support for registering restaurants, including a 33% rebate on all usage fees. There are also no sign-up fees for new businesses registering on the platform until 19th April. Customers are benefiting from free delivery in the meantime too.
Vouch for the Future
Help local bars, restaurants, cafes and leisure premises to keep the income that they so desperately need by buying a voucher now on this site and redeeming it once the movement restrictions have been lifted. Affected leisure and hospitality businesses can apply to have their websites registered for free. It’s also worth noting that pubs and bars are busy lobbying the government for permission to sell their drinks via a delivery service – so watch this space.
SMEs are always concerned with finance and the need to keep on top of cash flow and the books is now more pressing than ever. If you are struggling with cash flow because of Coronavirus, then look at Float. This Scottish based startup is offering an extended free trial – until 31st May – of its business forecasting software. Similarly, a new accounting feature called Radar which improves the productivity of small businesses is being offered by FreeAgent.
Online fraudsters have been taking advantage of the current situation to kick businesses when they are down. So take a look at ImmuniWeb, which is offering small businesses in the UK free software packages for robust cybersecurity. There are various criteria to satisfy but these are detailed on the website.
This online remote meeting space has become ubiquitous of late and it’s a great tool for business people who can meet remotely. Users get a free 45-minute session but can set up accounts for unlimited online meetings for a small monthly fee.
There are a huge number of tools that are now being offered on promotional, free and favourable terms to UK businesses, from website builders through to business accounting services. For example, businesses can gain a 90-day trial to Panintelligence, or a free trial of Zoho’s remote working toolkit until July. Similarly, free platform access is on offer from Adzooma until June.
New tools and offers are being released for businesses all of the time, so it’s worth signing up to newsletters from organisations such as the British Chambers of Commerce, the Growth Company and the FSB, in addition to industry-specific bodies that are relevant to your business. Speak to your bank, speak to your local business growth organisation and keep in touch with your Chamber of Commerce to receive details of the latest services as they go live on special terms. Now is the time to make use of these deals and to ensure your business remains as robust and healthy as possible at this challenging time.