Weekly Digest – 26 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.

AstraZeneca Starts UK COVID-19 Drug Trial

AstraZeneca’s AZD7442 drug, which is a combination of two antibodies, is being tested on 48 healthy people aged between 18 and 55.

This clinical trial marks an important milestone in the Cambridge-headquartered pharma giant’s development of a potential COVID-19 vaccine, and comes alongside a partnership with the University of Oxford on a separate vaccine. Results are expected by the end of this year.

UK Retailers Cutting Jobs at Fastest Rate Since 2009

Despite official figures last week that showed signs of recovery amid the easing of lockdown restrictions, a CBI report showed staff losses in the year to August were the highest since February 2009.

The monthly survey also found that more than half of retailers expect to further reduce their number of employees in the next three months as COVID-19 continues to take a toll on consumer confidence. We are undoubtedly navigating through difficult times, and it pays to have an expert by your side to help you bounce back as the economy reopens. If your business has been hit by the pandemic and you are struggling to recover, feel free to contact us for personalised business advice.

British Business Bank Grants 75,000th Start-Up Loan

The British Business Bank, the economic development bank of the UK Government, has provided the 75,000th funding deal under its Start Up Loans (SUL) programme, which has now invested £623m since being launched in 2012.

The SUL programme provides up to £25,000 to new businesses at an interest rate of 6%. It saw a significant increase in loans issued since the start of the pandemic, with £31.9m of funding drawn down from May to July 2020.

Loan applications like these can be painful so if you need a hand, please get in touch. We can help you find the best finance options for you and assist with your application.

What funding is available for your business?

With two-thirds of UK companies completely operational, but many still in a state of financial distress, the government continues to provide support for business 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 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. Get in touch if you need some help.

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.

What’s your money-making idea?

If you’re anything like us, you’re always trying to find ways to bring in more money into your business or to identify a profitable niche for a new business that you’re looking to put up. We know that this is easier said than done, so here are some tips that worked for us:

  • Know your passions and think about the pain points surrounding them.
  • Research the potentially profitable problems you’ve identified. Verify if people are willing to pay and how much they are willing to shell out for products or services that solve these.
  • Deep dive into the data and do an analysis of your potential market. By looking at the past and present trends, you’ll gain insights on how the future could look like and how your business can fit in.
  • Learn from your competitors. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but make sure to highlight your point of difference to your market.

Whether you are a new business owner or a relatively experienced one, it is exciting and challenging to come up with new money-making ideas. However, if you need fresh insights for a winning business idea or some guidance in revamping your business plan, don’t hesitate to drop us a message.

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.

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