Running your own business can be tough at the best of times, let alone in the midst of a pandemic. Luckily, there’s no shortage of help and advice out there but with so much on offer, it can be a confusing and overwhelming experience. To help streamline what’s available, we’ve broken everything down into key themes and listed a handful of organisations under each one, making it easier for your business to find the support it needs.
For official government advice, head to GOV.UK/Business support and for general guidance, visit the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) website.
Accountancy and Money Matters
Grant eligibility and government support – a number of sites are making it easier to find the financial support you’re entitled to. Take a look at these two free online tools from chartered accountants Accounts Department Online (ADO) and website Counting Up.
Managing expenses – website Expend.io is an online expenses management tool. You can automate your firm’s entire expenses process on this one platform saving you and your employees valuable time. The service is currently free for small businesses with 20 or less users but the offer ends in September (2020).
Cash management and forecasting – manage your accounts and cashflow online in real time with Float and have the confidence to make decisions there and then. The firm is offering an extended free trial but only until the end of May.
Accounting - software firm Free Agent offer a 30 day free trial and also have a host of guides to help your business navigate various aspects of Covid-19, from working from home to a glossary of terms that can help you clarify issues. For a longer trial, Adra is another accounting software tool offering the first six months for free.
Business banking – sole traders and small limited companies with up to two owners can open a free business banking account with Mettle (part of NatWest). This also includes Free Agent software at no additional charge.
Staying safe online – keep your business safe online with free training and resources from ACA Compliance Group. You can also start a free trial with Flash Start which filters content and malware on any device.
Connecting your network – bring workers together and share network access remotely with Ericom which is free for 60 days. For Apple users, head to Addigy instead where you can configure and manage all your devices.
Food and Hospitality
Adapting eat in to take out – if you’re struggling with ways on how to adapt, Deliveroo has several comprehensive guides that can help, for example how you can set up a delivery only kitchen and enabling contact free delivery. If you’ve already signed up with Deliveroo, you’ll also know they’ve changed from twice monthly to daily payments to help your cashflow.
Setting up a takeaway service – similarly, Wi-Q has set up a new online platform (Wi-Q Lite) which you can use to set up a takeaway service. You won’t need any additional software, just an online menu. Find out more at Wi-Q/Free mobile ordering solution.
Managing Stress, and Health & Safety
Self-care and emotional wellbeing – working from home on top of social distancing can have a detrimental effect on your team’s emotional health. Free advice and guidance on how to manage home working during the pandemic can be found at Cornerstone Cares.
Online learning – learning platform Improve offer a free trial helping you equip staff with additional skills. Topics covered include management and leadership, people and relationships and legislation and regulation.
Website Learning Pool are also providing 90 days free access to courses designed to help staff work from home. Subjects such as conference call etiquette and email stress can help you and your employees manage the demands of home working.
Health and safety – keep staff safe with these auditing and assessment tools from iAuditor. Access to premium content is free for three months.
Virtual receptionist – if you no longer have the luxury of a central switchboard, Moneypenny are offering a three-month free trial of their answering service. Calls are answered 24 hours a day.
Online queries – Artificial intelligence specialist EBI.AI has launched the CoronaBot which answers the most frequently asked questions on your website. The service is currently free. You can find out more about this initiative at EBI.AI/CoronaBot.
Marketing and advertising
Data analysis – use your time more efficiently with Adzooma who are offering their services for free until 1 June. You can manage all your online advertising on one platform, automate activities and create reports to see how effective your marketing really is. You can also test how well your SEO is doing with a free trial from SEOtesting.com.
Affiliate marketing – if you’ve never tried affiliate marketing before, now is a great time to give it a go. One of the largest networks, AWIN is offering services to businesses for free. Sign up and one of their content creators will link to your products, you only pay commission after a sale as been made.
Advertising – sign up for free advertising on the Find Tasty site which showcases independent businesses. The focus is on edible products, but they also include garden and pet supplies.
General advice – you can find a range of marketing tools and free advice on how to set up online at website creation and domain name specialists Go Daddy. If you decide to launch your own site, you can also take advantage of quality free images from Shutterstock.
Gift cards – think ahead and create your own gift cards with Stampede.ai.
Strengthening your business for the future
Over the coming weeks and months, restrictions on movement will hopefully start to ease but that doesn’t necessarily mean business will bounce back straight away. As a result, it’s more than likely you’ll need to rethink past practices and adapt to new norms, which is where we can help.
If you’re worried about how your business may be affected and want to explore ways to adapt, grow and develop, then contact us for an informal chat and we can take it from there.
You can speak to us on 01473 561023, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in our contact form. Help is just a few steps away – together we can help your business not just survive but thrive.