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Small businesses: coming back stronger

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Clemmy Stopford

Jun 19, 2020

It’s been around three months since the UK went into lockdown. 

We’ve all read about the huge impact the pandemic is going to have on our lives in the months and years ahead.  As things slowly start to reopen and we continue to adapt it’s important we don’t forget about our wellbeing.

We spoke to Penny Power OBE, author of Business is Personal. She’s been working closely with entrepreneurs, tracking their sentiment via a monthly Business Health Check. 

Here she tells us some of the things business owners have been telling her, with some handy tips.

The initial shock

In April, most saw a massive drop in revenue and there was a huge fear of the unknown. We were all questioning how long the lockdown would last, what support was going to be available and if small businesses could survive. 

Everyone tightened their cash belts. Those who were tracking their cash flow made some fairly big decisions about how they could adapt and where they could cut operating costs – fast. This ‘new war’ also affected morale hugely. 

Tip: Don’t be afraid to ask for help – even now. There’s still a long way to go until life gets back to normal. Chat to a loved one or colleague if you have concerns. Or pick up the phone to your accountant. 

A time for reflection

The phrase I love in business is “a clever person knows what they want, and a wise person knows what they don’t want”. The great joy in adversity is that we can stand back and appraise life and business and decide “what is the business I really want to lead”.

After the initial shock, I was hearing from a lot of business owners who were taking this time to reflect on their business. We often get caught up in the day-to-day running of a business and it isn’t always easy to see the bigger picture. 

Many entrepreneurs reported that this time has given them space to implement new processes.  Amidst the uncertainty, they’ve welcomed working ‘on’ their business rather than ‘in’ it.

For those able to reflect, this is a useful time to take your business forward. 

Tip: Block out some time to think about where you want your business to go. Step away from the screen, create a plan and take action. Think about the processes and tools you’ll need to succeed. 

Reset and adapt

The small businesses I work with have astounded me with their desire to learn. They’ve completely changed their operations, updated their online presence and refocused their business. 

Up-and-till this moment, many might have resisted things like working from home, moving their finances online or creating a strong online presence. But now, they’ve been forced to change their ways. We’ve seen a huge uptake in e-learning and mentoring as a result. 

Our May sentiment tracker showed that businesses were implementing changes and thinking about the future health of their business. We saw a rise in the number of those saying they had put cash flow processes in place.  

Tip: Check out some of the free online courses and resources available.Organisations like Entrepreneurs Network, and Small Business Britain regularly provide various training modules. And some of the big technology players like Square and Xero have a whole host of useful training webinars that you can join for free. Or you could take my Business Health Check here, and receive your own personal report.

This has been a very testing time for many, but one thing remains clear; business owners are the backbone of our nation and it’s this sector that will rebuild the economy. Seeing their dedication and how fast they’ve adapted, I think this community will be stronger and wiser than we could have predicted.

Visit our dedicated site for more inspirational stories, webinars and resources to help you navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

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