Small Business Britain has been working throughout Lockdown and the COVID-19 crisis in 2020 to support small businesses and understand what their needs are now and in the future. This has highlighted some key things - the huge strain this has put in particular on small businesses, many of whom had little to fall back on; the speed of the crisis took many unawares and it took several months for businesses to start to pick themselves up; and the switch to digital for small business has been dramatic, fast paced and in many cases transformational for their future. It has also highlighted the wider needs and role of small businesses - support for their mental health on the one hand, and the incredible support they provided throughout lockdown for their local communities.
The Small Business Resilience report is the latest in a series that has covered the last three years of small business. Small Business Resilience will uncover what it is taking for small businesses to get through the COVID-19 crisis, what makes small businesses resilient in a climate like this, and what other businesses can adopt to ensure their survival and future growth. The report will encompass a wide variety of perspectives, including small businesses, academics, industry experts and more.
The report will be launched early 2021 and we will share insights here every month as well as on social media and in the press.
We have most definitely been supported more by the community. We have had more customers reaching out to just check how we are doing and the number of customers preferring to shop directly has increased significantly. There is a lot of patience and empathy. We experienced a lot of growth during the peak of the pandemic and I believe this was as a result of changes in customer shopping habits as they preferred to shop locally and from small businesses.
What should people focus on post pandemic? Maintaining relationships that have been formed during these times; team development; being digitally equipped to work remotely; training and awareness sessions on mental health; and race and inequality.
We have chosen to live where we do as there are only independent businesses on our doorstep. We made a conscious effort to do this. You have to support and get support where you can. My advice to small businesses is to keep going. Ask questions, use your network, use local people and use free advice as much as you can. Use free events, meet with people and talk: always access whatever is available.
Positives come out of a negative. The business has been impacted, but we have refocused and re-constructed to come out with something innovative. COVID has helped me to think outside the box and react to change. Do not compare yourself to others - it is toxic. Work out what works best for you. You need a balance between what is trending and what works for you.
We are innovating and exploring many new opportunities including exporting, the Kickstart scheme and reaching other geographies in the UK with the benefit of new digital technology. There are many challenges ahead, but we are confident that with hard work, innovation, commitment and dedication we can overcome them.
My advice to small businesses is to focus on their core offering: is it right for the new normal? Find new ways to build a pipeline of customers and understand the best ways to convert them, given the current constraints. If the core offering isn’t working, pause or pivot. Build financial reserves and don’t skimp on support from professional service firms in order to build resilience. As Gunny Highway says in Heartbreak Ridge, "Improvise, adapt and overcome".
I am feeling positive because I have low overheads. Winning two awards has given me a boost and cemented my belief in what I am doing. I need to keep promoting my business and I have high hopes for it when tourism returns again. My advice to small businesses is don't give up on it. Find new ways around it. Keen an open mind. And promote on social media lots!