The COVID-19 pandemic has hit many SMEs hard and the SME Club is here to help with this pandemic and beyond. We offer advice and support with every aspect of running your SME. Here are some suggestions for navigating the current climate.
1.Communicate with your clients/customers: Whatever industry you’re SME works in, now is a really important time to communicate with all your customers and clients. This is priority for both existing and new customers too. Catching up and checking in to see how they are doing and what they need right now is really valuable. It may give you a better understanding of what they need from your business and how you can adapt your offering for the new normal. It will also help strengthen your relationship with them in the future. It’s about listening, and offering real value and expertise right now.
2.Find your new normal offering: There are a lot of great examples of SMEs embracing the current pandemic and successfully pivoting their offering into completely new areas. But you need to remember your business core offering and stay true to what your business stands for. Know your niche, look at what your clients really need and then see where the logical offering is. Customers want to support SMEs right now, so don’t be afraid to be honest and share your story and remember why you started the business in the first place.
3.Connect with your community: In a time like this, more and more business owners are connecting with others in similar industries to get a wider understanding of the implications and also to gather useful information and even helpful tips. Social networking platforms like LinkedIn work well to connect with others and can help start growing a strong community of peers. Find people in a similar situation or business to you and don’t be afraid to reach out. Try starting a helpful discussion or thread, and invite others to join.
4.Know what financial support you have access to: A lot of business owners are, understandably, stressed about money right now. Gov.uk is a great place to start to read up on the latest resources that may be available to you but also check out our page dedicated to resources and useful links to help. The two main grant options to look at as an SME is the job retention and self-employment scheme.
If you’re looking for a loan, the new Business Bounceback Loan is a great option offering between £2,000 and £50,000 and up to 25% of your turnover. What’s really great about this one is that it is interest free for the first 12 months, and then thereafter the interest rate is 2.5% which is really low. Unfortunately many businesses are falling through the cracks of current funding schemes, so it is important to do your own research.
5.Focus on customers over competition: A lot of owners focus and try to keep up with their competition instead of adding value to their own customers. It’s customer service that differentiates SMEs from big business. SMEs have the ability to adapt quickly and change what the offering to meet the needs of customers. Consider rewards programmes, discounts, flexible future bookings, virtual sessions, or even starting an e-newsletter. Think about how your business can retain your clients so that once things get moving again their loyalty remains with you and they appreciate your help through the difficult period.