Things have moved pretty quickly since last week. Cafes and restaurants have been forced to close and we are all told to self-isolate. While this is a hammer blow for small businesses, we must fight to keep our business alive and keep serving our customers during this period of time, which we don't know the end date for.
Here are some suggestions that might help you keep going.
Use all Government assistance available
In the UK and many other countries, the government has offered very generous assistance packages to help businesses through this period.
These are the ones in the UK you should be applying for or getting ready to:
- Job Retention Scheme: 80% of pay is covered by the government, backdated to March 1 - You must designate employees as furloughed workers. Send them an email stating such. HMRC will soon set up an online portal where you submit your employee's information that have been furloughed. This one is a must for ALL small businesses. These are grants and you don't have to pay this back.
- Business Interruption Loan: The above may not be available till end of April and if you need cash now, apply through British Business Bank, facilities through a local bank. your own bank may be on the list: Apply here
- VAT Deferred for 3 Months: If your business is VAT registered and was due to pay VAT then it won't need to for 3 months. Remember this a deferment, so you will have to pay it back. Use as emergency funding. Don't spend it if you don't have to. This will happen automatically. You don't need to apply for this deferment.
- Business Rate Holiday: No business rates will be due 2020/21. This will happen automatically.
- Cash Grants: Cafes and Restaurants can apply for cash grants up to £25,000. The size of the grant depends on rateable value of the property you occupy, with a maximum rateable value of £51,000 being eligible for the grant. Over this your not eligible. You don't need to apply. Your local authority will write to you. This great as you don't have to pay this back.
- Small Business Grant: These are for a business that pays very little or no rates due to the small business rate relief scheme. If this is you you will get a £10,000 grant. You don't need to do anything, your local authority will write you in if you're eligible.
Take Matters into Your Own Hands
This is YOUR business, it's your life and you're going to fight! Most of us can't imagine not having our business so in times of crisis or hardship, we will fight to save our livelihood and keep our business going.here are some ideas you could use to fight for your business:
- Go Online - You may think how can sell Flat Whites online? People visit your shop because they like to feel part of something, they like to feel they are supporting their community and enjoy what you have built and what you offer. This can extend to online. Make your website feel a part of your shop. Same colours and images of your shop. We use Shopify and they do plan for $29 a month. Shopify is great as you can easily set it up and run it yourself. If you do need help their plenty of talented people on Upwork and Fiverr who will help for little cost. Add things like bags of coffee, coffee making devices, gift cards to use in-store. These can help you going while the shop is shut. Add your web address to your Google shop listing.
- Facebook: Facebook is a great way to connect with your local community. Let them know about your website. Give something back like free coffee brewing classes every day at 10am. Ask for help. Dont be afraid. Ask local people to buy gift cards from your site that can help sustain your business.
- Ask Landlords for Help: Speak to your landlord and ask for a pause in the rent or a rent-free period.
- Speak to Your Bank/Lending Institution: If you have loans that you are paying back, ask for the payments to be put on hold.
- Print postcards and stick them through letterboxes: Tell them about your website, ask them to purchase gift cards. If you're still doing take away then let them know. Maybe do home delivery if they live within 2 kilometers. Or you will bring there order to there car.
- Get Together with other local businesses: Offer local community hamper packs for sale. Using products by surrounding business you can sell hamper packs and deliver to local people. Offer on your website. Mail drop.
Don't give up. Chest out, shoulders back. Lets do this!