Hope you are all safe and well during this period of uncertainty. Dealing with a pandemic was probably not on your list of worries for your small business! in this blog post, we have come up with some ideas for ways to help both your business and your clients during this period.

Although the Corona virus, or COVID-19, is going to make things difficult for a lot of businesses over the next few months, with sheer strength and determination, you will come through it and become successful once again.
It’s important to remember you’re not alone. Many, many businesses are going through what you are (including us!) so don’t feel that you are being left behind.

Here are 6 ways that you can keep your business going, support your clients, and even strengthen your community during the Coronavirus outbreak.

1. Get Your Business Online

We, in the UK, are entering our 4th week of lockdown and some of you have already thought about ways to take your business online. It’s interesting to see how many employees have been told to work from home already or work remotely in order to keep face-to-face interaction to a minimum.

Even if that’s not the case, most people are preferring to stay home these days, so the best way to provide your services is to do it online. Of course it’s easier said than done. If you’re a business consultant, a bookkeeper, or a tutor, for example, you can move your sessions online. You might already use Skype or Zoom to run virtual meetings, sessions or consultations. If not, it’s time to learn how to use them. Google also just announced that they’re offering free access to their advanced Hangouts Meet video-conferencing platform until July 1, 2020, so take them up on the offer.

If you’re running a hair or beauty salon or you’re a personal trainer, things could be trickier, but you can get creative. People are looking for ways to keep fit and stay occupied at home, so try offering webinars and tutorials through webinar platforms, YouTube, or Facebook Live. They could be live, or recorded for on-demand access.

You could create video courses for simple exercises for the elderly and vulnerable people who will need to be shielded for a lot longer. You can also hold live virtual yoga classes for your clients to participate at home in real time.

Image Credit: Uscreen.TV

Beauticians could teach people how to carry out a home facial with ingredients they might have at home or do an intensive hair nourishing treatment, for example.

Look for ways that you can share your expertise and knowledge online instead of face-to-face. It’s up to you whether you want to offer your virtual sessions for free, to improve your business reputation and grab new leads, or place them behind a paywall so that only paying customers can access them.

2. Keep In Touch With Clients

Communication is still important. Email them and ask them how they are doing. If you keep in touch with your clients and remain a part of their lives, they’ll come back to you when the outbreak is over. You can provide valuable support and information during this difficult time. You can even offer some of your packages for free or at discounted prices depending on how comfortable you are financially.

Keep your communication channels open by sending email newsletters with updates about your business or suggestions for ways to cope during self-isolation.

ways to help business

It’s important to be open and clear about what changes you’re making in your business. If you’re replacing face-to-face sessions with virtual ones via Skype, let your clients know as soon as possible. If you have to reduce some of your services, cancel sessions, or make alternative arrangements, the sooner you tell your clients, the better.

3. Safeguard Your Employees

Keeping your business healthy and able to function during this pandemic also means keeping your employees healthy too. Ensure they work from home where possible, using online collaboration and communication platforms like Google Hangouts, Slack, Grow in Cloud and other tools.

ways to help business

Let your employees know that you’re there to support them, both emotionally and financially. Make sure they know you are in contact with your accountant about potentially furloughing employees, so they are reassured that they will be ok financially. If you are not sure of what is available for you by the government in the UK, check out this site.

It is really important that your employees know that they will not be penalised for staying at home to safeguard themselves and/or their family.

4. Use The Time To Evaluate Your Business Plan

If your business is slow, take the opportunity to work on business development plan. You can’t see your clients currently, so use this time to come up with improvements you can make to your business, for example adding online services or producing a business website. If you haven’t got a website set up yet, then check out Phase Three Goods who builds sites for “small businesses, sole traders, SMEs, charities and creative start-ups”.

You can also find ways where you can be more efficient in your business and streamline your business processes (see automating your business processes blog).

A quiet period is a time to improve your business marketing strategy, revamp your website and/or start including blogs (see why businesses should have a blog post). Also, use the time to update your social media channels or learn about other platforms that you haven’t used yet, such as LinkedIn and Twitter.

Think of it as an opportunity to work through your business to-do list of all those things you’ve always intended to do, but never had the time. You can use video conferencing tools to virtually meet up with your co-owners to discuss ideas.

ways to help business
Picture Credit: Getty Images

5. Find Ways To Help Your Community

Part of succeeding as a local business means becoming a vital part of your local community, so that people don’t just think of you as a faceless company, but as a caring neighbour. That’s even more true during times of crisis.

Look for ways to support local residents, like checking up on your elderly clients and ask if they need help getting their groceries. If you are a local gardener and can’t do their gardens yet, ask if you can help them with their shopping. The same can be said for domestic cleaners who can’t go inside clients’ homes. Volunteer for support groups in your local authority or district. Together we can do this!

ways to help business
Image Credit: Sky News

If you run a childcare business or tutoring business and you had to cancel sessions, try recording videos to keep children entertained at home with fun activities so parents can leave their children safely in front of the screen.

For tutorials you could video your lessons online so you can help your students who might want to use the time trying to understand fractions, “fronted adverbials” or even learn a new language!

6. Network with Other Business Owners for Tips & Support

Join others (who are going through it with you) into discussions on Facebook groups such as Small Business UK. Here you can connect with other small business owners and learn how to keep your company strong and safe as well as keep up to date with the latest government financial support.

The key thing we all need to remember is to stay safe and follow the guidelines set out by the government. We will get through this!

For further reading on this topic, do read this detailed guide with lots more tips and advice: COVID-19: The SOS guide to selling online (without coding know-how)

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