Small businesses and freelancers are well versed in overcoming adversity but the ongoing coronavirus outbreak is a uniquely challenging situation for everyone. We’ve pulled together a range of ideas and strategies that might help you and your business during this turbulent period.
1. Check out the government assistance available
As you’re probably well aware, the UK government has announced a variety of temporary schemes, grants, loans and measures to help small businesses survive the coronavirus outbreak. From the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self-employment Income Support Scheme to deferred bill payments and sick pay, we’ve summarised all the key support that’s available to you during this period in our complete guide.
If you have employees who are furloughed, or if you're a limited company director who is furloughed, you can also check out our furlough calculator to work out how much you can claim from HMRC's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
2. Consider adapting your business model
While the UK is under lockdown, the vast majority of businesses have been unable to operate as normal. Whether it’s performing a physical service or opening bricks and mortar premises, the scope of most businesses has been significantly curtailed.
If you’re able to do so, try to imagine ways you can pivot your business to stay afloat during this period. For example, a personal trainer could consider offering online training sessions, a local shop could potentially switch to a delivery model or a cafe might create an e-book of its most-loved recipes.
Aim to pinpoint something unique that you have to offer and think about how you can leverage it to suit the current climate. Bear in mind that many of your customers will be thinking of you during this period and will be keen to support you if they can.
You could also consider offering your customers the option of purchasing a gift card or a voucher that they can use in the future. You might find that your loyal customers are keen to support you through this time and snap those vouchers up!
3. Become a master of marketing
Has tidying up your online presence been at the bottom of your to-do list for a while? If you’re finding yourself with more free time than usual, take the opportunity to polish your marketing plan. This might mean refreshing your branding, developing a fresh look for your business or simply reviewing and updating the content on your website. If you don’t already have one, starting a blog could be a great way of keeping your customers updated and will give you some fresh new content to share on your social media channels.
4. Dive into the world of online events
You might be a regular on HouseParty or Facetime calls with family or friends but have you attended any virtual events professionally yet? Organisations like Creative Mornings have moved their usual coffee morning meetups online, while conferences like Brighton Ruby have come up with unique ways to deliver their planned talks digitally. As well as learning something new, attending these events could provide you with a valuable chance to grow your network and feel part of a community in a time when you might need it most.
At FreeAgent, we've started hosting a virtual coffee break for freelancers and small business owners every Wednesday morning at 10am over on our Facebook page. We’re delighted to see how many people have been able to make new connections over a digital cuppa with us, so please do join in - it’s BYOB (bring your own biscuits!).
5. Upskill in your downtime
Last but not least, if you’re finding yourself with some extra downtime at the moment, this could be the perfect time to learn a new skill. Websites like Udemy offer thousands of free courses and lots of universities and higher education institutions are offering some of their courses for free over the duration of the coronavirus crisis. This might be the perfect time to teach yourself Photoshop, brush up on your artistic skills, or even teach yourself a new language!
For more tips and resources to help you navigate the ever-changing business landscape, check out our small business coronavirus support hub.