Weekly Digest – 19 August 2020

Welcome back to our Weekly Digest. We hope you and your family are safe and doing well. Read on for this week’s update.

Business Conditions Improved Moderately, UK Firms Remain Vulnerable

Data from the latest Coronavirus Business Tracker shows business conditions improved only moderately in the weeks since the economy suffered a historic contraction in Q2 2020.

The number of businesses which reported an increase in revenue from UK customers increased to 38% from 34% in the previous tracker. However, the number of firms reporting a decrease was also 38%.

Meanwhile, more than 1 in 3 (39%) businesses have three months or less worth of cash in reserve. With government support schemes approaching the end, and with the potential reintroduction of localised or national lockdowns, it is still unclear what further support struggling businesses will receive to stem cashflow issues.

Although there are some improvements in trading conditions, UK small businesses still have a long way to go in terms of recovery. If you need personalised business advice, don’t hesitate to drop us a message.

Contact Tracers Going Door-to-Door

The government is overhauling its testing and contact tracing efforts to avoid a potential increase in infections.

The army of officials tasked with finding people who’ve come into contact with COVID-19 positive individuals will be replaced by locally-based teams. The volunteers will go door-to-door to track down those infected by the virus.

The change will take effect on the 24th of August, and the NHS Test and Trace service will reduce its staff capacity from 18,000 to 12,000. The shift to this localised approach comes after criticisms that the contact tracing program is not reaching enough potential coronavirus cases.

Shopping Local to Kickstart Economic Recovery

Local small businesses are a vital part of our economy and the communities they represent. According to the World Bank Group, small- and medium-sized businesses account for about 90% of businesses and more than 50% of employment worldwide.

While the government is trying its best to protect the economy, there are many ways people can do their part and support local small businesses. Here are ways you can help small businesses stay afloat during the COVID-19 crisis.

  • Purchase gift cards from your local stores.
  • Shop online, but keep it local.
  • Order takeaway food and drinks from your local restaurants.
  • Be a little more generous than usual when giving tips.
  • Leave positive reviews online and promote them on social media.
  • Postpone instead of cancelling.
  • Join online classes if local businesses offer this option to follow social restrictions.

The coronavirus is one of the greatest challenges of our times. If you own a small business and are struggling to survive, we can help you create a plan to come back stronger as the economy gradually reopens. Get in touch to schedule a business consultation.

Take Online Payments Safely

The pandemic has significantly changed our lives including the way we shop and make payments. As e-commerce and online payments increasingly gain popularity, it is important for small businesses to adapt.

As a responsible business owner, you must ensure that your customers’ data are protected to gain their trust. This article from Entrepreneur shares some security tips when accepting online payments.

  • Choose a secure eCommerce platform and processor.
  • Educate yourself and your employees.
  • Verify the transaction and more.

When customers trust you, they will continue supporting your business. Ultimately, this will benefit your bottom line.

What funding is available for your business?

While two-thirds of UK companies being completely operational, but many still in a state of financial distress, the government continues to provide support for their recovery.

To cover the impact of the crisis, there are grants made available by the government such as the £1.25b Future Fund and R&D rescue package for fast growth businesses and smaller businesses with a Research & Development focus. The UK government has recently expanded this rescue package for start-ups.

If your business has been severely hit by COVID-19 and you need more support, the government is giving small- and medium-sized businesses access to financial support through various initiatives such as the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, where you can get up to £50,000 no-interest loans for the first 12 months.

The Business Interruption Loan Scheme offers a maximum loan of £5 million made available through commercial banks, lenders have provided £12.2 billion worth of facilities to 55,674 companies.

You can also claim for 80% of your employee’s wages plus any employer National Insurance and pension contributions if you have put them on furlough because of COVID-19 under the Job Retention Scheme, which has been extended until the end of October. You can check your eligibility here.

With all the financial assistance schemes available for businesses, it can be difficult to assess which one is suitable for your business. Let us help you evaluate your options.

Useful Remote Work Tools to Boost Productivity

You’ve probably realised that working remotely is not without its challenges. Many people have adopted new strategies and habits to stay productive and avoid distractions. This article covers some AI-powered tools that can improve your productivity and make your life easier.

  • Timely- It tracks what you do throughout the day and automatically groups tasks into projects with labels and classifications.
  • Otter.ai- It uses machine learning to help you generate rich notes from your meetings, interviews, and other voice conversations– saving you time writing the summary and meeting notes.
  • Krisp- This app reduces background noise in your conference calls while making human voices crisp and clear.

Adjusting to remote work arrangements can be challenging for both employees and employers. Contact us if you need help in getting the right systems and tech in place for your business.

Avoiding COVID-19 Online Scams

Recently, there has been a significant increase in COVID-19-related online scams that steal your personal data, impersonate authorities, offer fraudulent medical goods and services, and make fake requests for charitable donations. Below are some tips from Google Safety Center to keep you from falling victim to these scams.

  • Know how scammers may reach you- Aside from emails, they may also use text messages, automated calls, and malicious websites.
  • Check trusted sources directly- Scammers may pose as trusted and authoritative sources. So directly visit reliable sources instead to get the latest factual information.
  • Be cautious of requests for personal or financial information, pause and evaluate before sharing- Do not provide confidential information such as logins, bank details, and addresses to suspicious or unverified sources. Donate directly through non-profits.
  • Double-check links and email addresses before clicking- Fake links imitate established websites by adding extra random letters and numbers or words, so be extra careful and check before you click.
  • Search to see if it’s been reported- Copy and paste the email address, phone number, or suspicious portion of the message on your search engine to check if it has already been reported.
  • Add an extra layer of security to your account- Add two-factor authentications to your accounts for extra protection online.

If you encounter phishing pages, you can report it here. For malicious software, you can report the site here.

Get in touch

Contact us if you have any questions or want to discuss the next steps for your business.

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