With local lockdowns across the country, how can owner managers in Wales prepare, particularly if cross-border trade is an issue? And how can they manage the logistics of it all?
With a two-week lockdown planned for Wales from Friday, here are some tips for business owners to deal with the crisis.
We all know that to prevent another national lockdown, the Government is using local lockdowns and restrictions to target Covid-19 outbreaks. However, this means a lot of Welsh businesses working with customers in other parts of the UK could be on the back foot.
They won’t be able to operate on the same basis as a business in, say, Bristol, who won’t have to send everyone home. A business in Bristol that is looking for the same opportunities as that business in Wales will then have the advantage over the next couple of weeks. Or do they?
It’s really unfortunate timing if you consider that the lockdown period covers the end of the furlough period and the beginning of the new job support scheme. So, it couldn’t be worse timing for owner managers who have to send home staff who are unable to work from home. So what do business owners do?
Seek out advice and support
The first step is to come and talk to us to see what additional Government funding is available.
The Welsh Government is making some extra funding available right now – between £1,000 and £5,000 – depending on the size of the business. This could help with overhead costs during the lockdown period. We can help business owners get their funding applications in so that the monies flow quickly.
For some businesses the funding will not compensate for operating costs and will just be a contribution towards them and this lockdown may be the final straw. But in our experience the majority of owner managers will be able to work around it for two weeks, just as they have done before.
Support across different sectors
We have a huge range of different clients across many different sectors here in Cardiff, ranging from individual tax returns to large family companies. We have clients in retail, hospitality and health sectors and with that experience are positioned to help business to adapt and develop.
For example, many businesses in the hospitality sector have diversified and adapted by trading as takeaways. While operating as a takeaway hasn’t given them the level of income they should have, it has helped them to stay afloat during the crisis.
Retail has also been hammered and many non-essential retailers have had to close their doors. However, that has highlighted that it is more important than ever to have a good online presence. Without one, any business will have a problem moving forward. Retailers that have adapted with a slick online strategy have reaped the benefits.
Agility is everything right now and we have seen a lot of businesses generating income in a different way, but with the same quality service and product they had before Covid-19 struck.
Show resilience and be optimistic
Most owner managers are very resilient people and are optimists, or they wouldn’t be doing what they do. So, when something negative comes along, they take a knock but also think quickly about how they can adapt. While the lack of clarity about the future is a problem, no one can now honestly claim to know what the future holds. So, if this is where we are, we have to acclimatise.
In Wales there is an enormous sense of community and the people in Wales know that to keep infection down and keep people safe, this lockdown has to be a priority. It’s the right thing to do for everyone’s health.
Grants to help businesses in Wales to digitise, develop and innovate
In a very timely announcement, Welsh Government is providing grants to businesses that need to digitise or develop their operations to remain competitive. My advice to business owners would be to use the onset of Lockdown to think about changes they could make in their business to make it more resilient and then apply for financial support to achieve that.
Digitalisation has paved the way over the past six months and it’s pulled businesses forward. For example, we work with GP practices that now do phone and video consultations – their use of new technology has accelerated rapidly, and I don’t think that we’ll be going back to the old days.
We have made our clients aware of the new funds available from the Welsh Government and have already seen an influx of owner managers who intend to submit applications to help accelerate their plans.
For example, a business owner might want to implement a CRM or stock system, but it’s going to cost £10,000. The owner manager knows that their business would be able to trade much more competitively what with one, but can’t afford to invest the £10,000. In this case, the Welsh Government could be funding 90% of the costs, leaving the business to fund 10% – much more palatable and likely to be the catalyst for innovation.
Although not a panacea, there are now new sources of funding available. To secure those new funds and develop our businesses we need to accept what is happening, remove emotion and adapt. That way we can focus on what the business needs and secure the funding that will help to get through lockdown 2 and develop an even more resilient and competitive business.