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: 1st June 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 financial support available
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
Job Retention Scheme
For employees on the payroll on or before 19th March 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 using the online claim service can be made from 20th April and the scheme can be backdated to 1st March. It takes 6 working days for government payments to arrive in employer’s accounts. The scheme has now been extended to October, with increased flexibility beginning in August.
Note also that employees that have left the business between 28th Feb and 19th March (either voluntarily or by redundancy) can be re-employed and put on furlough, if the business chooses.
Coronavirus Business Interruption
Loan Scheme (CBILS)
The government will cover the first 12 months of interest payments and lender-levied fees on loans of up to £5m to businesses needing cash before the end of April, available through high-street banks. Loans can also be interest-only repayment in the first 12 months.
Loans can be for 3-months up to 6 years, for businesses with turnover of less than £45m, and there are a small number of sectors that aren’t covered.
Coronavirus Bounce Back Loan
As CBILS has been difficult to access, from 4th May companies can apply for a loan for 25% of their turnover up to a maximum of £50,000. No repayments are required for the 12-months and interest payments for the first 12-months will be paid by the government.
Loans can be up to 6 years and will be 100% guaranteed by the government, with checks only to prevent fraud. It is not possible to also have a CBILS loan, but CBILS can be converted to a Bouce Back loan.
Coronavirus Future Fund
From May 2020, convertible loans of £125,000 to £5m will be available for innovative companies that rely on equity investment.
The funding must be matched by private investors and the company must have raised at least £250,000 from 3rd party investors in the last 5 years. More details to follow when available.
VAT & Income Tax Deferral
VAT payments for the period 20th March 2020 to 30th June 2020 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 the 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. This relief can also be claimed by nurseries.
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 024 1222.
Self-employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS)
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, have traded in 2019-20, intend to continue trading in 2020-21, and have lost income due to COVID-19. For eligible persons, there’s an extended window to 23rd April 2020 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.
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