SMEs applying for support under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme should read the small print

Grabbing a lifebelt when you are drowning makes sense, but when that so-called lifebelt is a business loan to survive the Coronavirus pandemic, you need to read the small print before signing on the dotted line.

The various government support schemes for SMEs may have made big headlines, not least their claims about making loans available for SMEs, but the devil is likely to be in the details.

No matter how panic-stricken you might be it is worth making sure you know exactly what you are getting into when applying for a loan under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS). The difficulty many businesses are having getting through to someone at the bank is an indication of the problem, albeit it is hardly surprising given that banks have run down their SME support teams over the past twelve years.

Before even contacting a bank the first step is to take a deep breath and ensure you know exactly who to approach and what you can apply for. There are ample details about...

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Why you shouldn’t suspend your marketing during the Coronavirus pandemic

SMEs have had to close, suspend or reduce their activities due to the Coronavirus pandemic and most are looking for ways to minimise their cash out flow however despite the temptation they should be wary of cutting their marketing budgets.

But if your business disappears from the market and in doing so is no longer top of mind for your customers and clients will you be able to regain your position or will others who continued marketing replace you?

Withdrawing from the market may suggest you have gone out of business, as indeed will be the case for many as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.

While it is understandable that SMEs in dire financial straits will want to preserve cash by cutting back on expenditure, some newly-published research from Opinium, released on March 26 has found that people do still want to hear from businesses of many kinds.

The research revealed that “a very large majority of people in the UK would like to hear either the same amount, or even more,...

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To Pay or Not to Pay Quarter Day Rent & Business Rates – the latest

As if the pressure and worries SMEs are facing due to the Coronavirus pandemic were not enough, yesterday (Wednesday) was when Quarter Day Rent was due to be paid.

For many, it was also a payment date for business rates although the government has suspended these for a year.

While SMEs may be eligible for suspending the payment of business rates as announced by the Chancellor in his first set of measures to help businesses survive the pandemic, little had so far been said about rent.

However, yesterday, the Government published details of three months’ protection for businesses from eviction for failure to pay rent. While is included in the emergency powers legislation that is due to be given Royal Assent today but we are still awaiting confirmation. There more details here.

Some businesses had already declared their intention to miss paying their Quarter Day Rent, like, for example Burger King, whose CEO Alasdair Murdoch announced on Tuesday that the company would not be...

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In a crisis it is crucial that SMEs keep staff updated, especially those working at home

In the current Coronavirus-induced crisis people are understandably worried and frightened, for their jobs, their families and their health so it is crucial for SME employers to communicate changes as quickly and sympathetically as possible.

After all, while you as SME owners are currently facing unprecedented challenges to your business and feeling bleak if not panic ridden about your prospects for survival, at some point this crisis will come to an end and you will hope to still have a business.

With all the financial support measures recently announced by the Government, most SMEs do not need to close their businesses or dispense with staff.

I have posted the latest information with advice for SMEs on how to deal with the coronavirus pandemic on onlineturnaroundguru.com and will update as the details become clearer.

While in the short term SMEs may have had to ‘furlough workers’ (see the above advice link for what this means) but eventually staff will be needed back...

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Maintaining a positive mindset about your business during the current crisis

small business sme smes Mar 20, 2020

Nobody would deny that the current pandemic-induced situation is a worrying time for SME business owners but they should do everything they can to maintain a positive mindset.

It helps to see if there are potential opportunities for either new ways of working or new services that you can adopt, especially if the changes you make demonstrate a concern for the needs of others.

There have been some excellent examples among the smaller micro-businesses that have been remarkably agile in doing this very quickly. Many of these are likely to fall into the category of sole trader/self-employed for whom there does not yet appear to any Government financial help, so hats off to them for their agility.

Examples we have seen is the numbers of exercise and fitness, yoga, Zumba and other classes that have set up to carry on via video in response to the closure of their usual physical venues.  Not only does this mean that they are able to maintain the link with their clients but they have...

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Tax Relief For SMEs Impacted By Covid-19

covid-19 hmrc late payment sme Mar 19, 2020

HM Revenue & Customs has been told by the government to adopt a lenient approach with SMEs impacted by coronavirus that are unable to pay PAYE, VAT and other taxes.

It has set up a hotline for directors to call and ask for a “Time to Pay” arrangement if they're struggling because of the effects of the pandemic.

The number to call is 0800 015 9559.

HMRC will consider proposals for deferred payments or for spreading payments over time, say 12 months or even longer, and can waive late payment penalties and interest, but you must call them as soon as possible.

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Using the Pareto 80/20 Rule as a guide in your business

Many people in business are familiar with the Pareto 80/20 Rule, particularly the idea that 80% of their business comes from just 20% of customers or clients, or that 80% of their profits comes from 20% of orders, or that 80% of their profits come from 20% of products, or even that 80% of their sales are generated by 20% of their sales staff.

Understanding this can influence behaviour such as protecting the 20% that contribute the most or looking at how to improve the lower performing 80%.

Essentially the Pareto 80/20 Rule is simply a way of demonstrating that most things in life are not distributed evenly.

This can apply to everything but focuses on considering productivity as an output of time spent or as a return on investment. It looks at resources, in terms of people, time and cost with a view to optimising the output. Analysis of turnover and profits by customer, market segment and products to produce a pie chart is likely to highlight aspects of the Rule.

The 80/20 Rule...

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Something for everyone in the Spring budget – but will it be delivered?

Who could envy a Chancellor having to deliver a Spring budget just one month into the job and in the midst of a global pandemic?

The Spring budget came after the early morning announcement of by the BoE (Bank of England) of an interest rate cut from 0.75% to 0.25%. Was this an outgoing Governor stealing an incoming Chancellor’s thunder?

With short term measures to help businesses deal with the Covid-19 consequences and others dealing with the environment, infrastructure, business taxes and addressing regional inequality the Spring budget covered them all.

The headline was a commitment to invest in infrastructure in support of the government’s commitment to ‘level up’ the economy by focusing investment on the Midlands and North: “over the next five years, we will invest more than £600bn pounds in our future prosperity”.

Many worries of SMEs were addressed by the £30bn package of short term measures to deal with the consequences of the...

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Sector – business in UK’s North and Midlands

The UK’s North and Midlands were once the powerhouse for the country’s economy, with its manufacturing and engineering industries driving the Industrial Revolution in the late 19thCentury.

Cities such as Leeds, Bradford, Manchester, Sheffield and Birmingham were the industrial heartland of UK when national economies depended heavily on what they could make and sell, from textiles to steel and heavy engineering machinery.

But as industry in UK declined, the UK economy shifted its focus to services and in particular to the professional and financial services with a lot manufacturing being transferred to countries such as India and China, where production costs were much lower. This was also associated with a shift in the UK economic centre of gravity from the Midlands and the North to London leaving much of the country behind.

Vestiges of industry have survived in places like Sunderland, where the Japanese car manufacture Nissan has thrived and recently increased its...

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Employing millennials should not be a problem

Employing millennials should not be seen as a problem but according to some reports in the business press many employers would prefer not to.

The reasons given range from this generation having a poorer grasp of language to being less loyal than older workers, and allegedly having higher absence rates.

Quite apart from the fact that age discrimination is outlawed under equal opportunities legislation, millennials (the generation born between 1980 and 2000) now make up the bulk of the workforce.

While it would be fair to say that employing millennials means bosses need to understand that this age group may view their careers rather differently from previous generations, it is also true that each generation comes with skills and attitudes that are a benefit to their employers. It is also true for many employers that they are customers who need to be understood.

Approximately 10 years ago PwC produced a report that focused on the millennial generation, examining their career...

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