Almost every business has faced major disruptions caused by the pandemic. As restrictions begin to be lifted, business owners can start to think about how the business environment might look post-COVID.
SWIG Finance Business Manager, Mike Chapman, shares his tips on how businesses can begin to align their strategies with the post-COVID landscape and start to identify their ‘new normal’.
With the impact of COVID reaching far and wide, business leaders will need to consider how their organization will be affected in both the short- and long-term, and now is the time to focus on the future.
Quick wins to get your business restarted
Once you have your short-term cash flow needs under control though cost reduction strategies and government support schemes such as CBILS, BBL and Furlough it is time to start looking to the future. Research has found that 30 to 40 percent of consumers have been trying new brands and products during this period presenting a major opportunity for businesses that can capitalize on this.
- Identify which employees you need now, and how they can be deployed to make the most impact. The furlough scheme can be used multiple times for the same employee; this can be used to the advantage of your business to ensure you have the right employees at the right time without the burden of unnecessary staff costs.
- Get your workspace COVID compliant: cleaning stations, one-way routes and social distancing procedures can be quick to implement and will enable you to get essential premises operational and in line with government guidelines.
- Be mindful of mental health and wellbeing. Regular team video calls can help teams working remotely feel more connected, and alert you to anyone who may be struggling.
- Keep your customers and employees on the same page with a strong communication strategy. This helps set a service level expectation for customers and helps employees to feel engaged and motivated.
Planning for the future
This is a terrible time for so many people, but opportunity exists for companies who are agile and proactive in their planning. Build your business to be agile and flexible to change – we have a long way to go yet and the only real certainty is uncertainty. Companies who can be agile in their planning and flexible in their business adaptation will emerge stronger in an economy where many competitors will fail.
- Observe the emerging trends – remember, this is the ‘new normal’. Redeploy budgets that would have previously been spent elsewhere to the channels and customers that are experiencing high demand.
- Conduct a supply chain review – identifying alternative suppliers and shorten supply chains where possible to ensure your business remains agile and ready to fill customer demand.
- Financial stress testing – it is likely that many businesses will experience cash flow pressure 4 to 5 months after the crisis peaks, when demand starts to return. Undertake a few alternative revenue scenario plans and try to plan you working capital requirements to avoid getting caught out.
How South West businesses are adapting
The ‘new normal’ has forced many businesses to rethink the way they operate.
With some industries being hit harder than others, business survival is causing owners to be creative and innovative in their continuity approach.
From increasing online presence to generating new income streams, we take a brief look at some of the businesses that have adapted their business operating models;
In Manufacturing, Cornish gin distillers, Tarquin’s, responded to the crisis by switching from spirits production to hand sanitizer – they are supplying frontline workers for free. Meanwhile, Plymouth manufacturer Tusker Industrial Safety, which usually makes safety clothing and equipment for heavy industry, has switched to producing hygiene and safety screens for two major companies to keep workers safe during the Coronavirus outbreak.
In Museums and Institutions, We The Curious, in Bristol, have created an online ‘Do Try This At Home’ page which has activities specifically designed for KS2 children who are currently out of school. Meanwhile, the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter has the facility to explore the museum online.
In Pet Supplies, Slickers Doghouse in Padstow is continuing trading as an essential shop, however, to combat social distancing, they are offering appointment slots for their customers with the option of delivery within a 15-mile radius.
About SWIG Finance
SWIG Finance is continuing to support SMEs, including those businesses who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
We are working in partnership with the British Business Bank to deliver the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).
SWIG Finance can provide CBILS- backed loans from £50,001 up to £250,000 to businesses in the South West region. Arrangement fees and the first 12 months interest are paid by the government.
SWIG Finance also deliver business loans of up to £250k through the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Investment Fund (CIOSIF). These loans can be provided alongside CBILS and BBL.
To find out more, visit our dedicated CBILS page.