CORONAVIRUS Practical business advice
Marketing and business advice for small and medium-sized businesses during the coronavirus outbreak
These are tough and uncertain times for almost every business. So this page has been set up to help as many SMEs as possible with marketing and business advice, including links to specific government information.
This page will be updated regularly to ensure it includes the latest government announcements: Updated 26th March 2020
8 Key Marketing & Business Tips
Focus on current customers
Do whatever you need to do to keep your current customers happy – customer retention is more important than ever. How can you go above and beyond?
Take any money you can
This is not the time to be too picky about where your income comes from as Cash is King. If this means adapting your services or bowing to customer demands, do it.
If you find that you have more time on your hands, now is a great time to solve those operational issues that have been holding your business back. This will allow you to concentrate on growth when the time comes.
Given that everyone is being asked to stay at home, you’ll have a captive audience. What can you offer online? There’s some great examples of businesses providing webinars on LinkedIn and good social media can be cost effective.
Don't stop marketing
Assuming cash-flow allows you must continue marketing and even do more if possible. Given the speed of the shock, the bounce-back should also be rapid and you need to be front of mind when this happens. Not only that, by adapting you can attract customers in the short term as well.
Take advantage of cheaper adverts
In crises (e.g. recessions), 80% of companies stop advertising. For the remaining 20%, advertising becomes more effective and cheaper – e.g. Google Adwords.
Remember that this is a challenging time for everyone. You must demonstrate that you also understand and care about their challenges, as I’m sure you do.
Attitude is key. Staying positive and having the mindset that this is an opportunity not a crisis is crucial. Stimulating that mindset in others is also essential.
Guidance on the measures to help businesses
The latest, direct government advice can be found in this link. I have summarised the key points below:
JOB RETENTION SCHEME
For employees on the payroll but with no work to do, the government will pay 80% of their monthly wages up to £2,500. This can be topped up to 100% by the employer. Any business can qualify, but the employees must be designated ‘furloughed workers’.
Applications can be made now and the scheme can be backdated to 1st March, but given it requires new processes it may be late April before the measures are in place. Currently the scheme will last 3 months.
CORONAVIRUS BUSINESS INTERRUPTION LOAN SCHEME (CBILS)
From Monday 23rd, the government will provide up to 12-month interest-free loans to businesses needing cash before the end of April, available through high-street banks.
Loans can be for 3-months up to 10 years, for businesses with turnover of less than £45m, and there are a small number of sectors that aren’t covered (see this document)
VAT & INCOME TAX DEFERRAL
VAT payments for the period 20/3/20 to 30/6/20 will not be required until 31st March 2021 for all businesses. However, VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal.
For self-employed, income tax payments due in July 2020 are deferred to January 2021. This deferral is automatic
STATUTORY SICK PAY
Any business under 250 employees can reclaim up to 14 days statutory sick pay, caused by COVID-19. The 3-day waiting period has also been removed.
The mechanism for repayment will be put in place in the coming months.
CASH GRANTS: RETAIL, HOSPITALITY AND LEISURE SECTORS
A grant of up to £25,000 for businesses with a rateable value of up to £51,000
BUSINESS RATE RELIEF: RETAIL, HOSPITALITY AND LEISURE SECTORS
There is a 12-month holiday for business rates from 1st April. This will be applied automatically, but may require the council to reissue the council tax bill
SMALL BUSINESS GRANT FUNDING
For businesses that already pay little or no business rates due to relief through Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR), Rural Rate Relief (RRR) or tapered relief, they will be eligible for a £10,000 cash grant.
This grant is automatic and local councils will write to eligible businesses
TIME TO PAY
All businesses that owe tax and are in financial distress can apply for delayed payment with HMRC. To apply call HMRC at 0800 0159 559
The self-employed can apply for a grant of 80% of their average monthly profits, capped at a taxable amount of £2,500 per month.
To be eligible, the person must have trading profits of less than £50,000, receive over 50% of their earnings from self-employment, and have filed a return for 2018-19 by 31st January 2020. For eligible persons, there’s a 4 week extended window for filing if the January deadline was missed.
HMRC will contact eligible people directly. Although backdated to March 2020, a lump payment will not be received before June 2020