Business Advice: Staying proactive during COVID-19

Are you self-employed or a small, independent business and have had to make the difficult decision to temporarily close or halt trading? Have you found yourself #WFH (working from home) and struggling to stay motivated?

These are sad and strange times for us all as we try and stop the spread of COVID-19 so that we can all get back to normal as quickly as possible.

But President of Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber of Commerce, Joada Allen, has some business tips for how to stay proactive and productive during this downtime.

Joada Allen, President of BR Chamber
Joada Allen, President of BR Chamber

At just 35, Joada is the youngest president BR Chamber has ever had and was voted in last year following six years as a Chamber member in which time she joined the representation council.

Alongside her work with the Chamber, Joada is director of Barnsley-based video production company, Visualised it, and is a busy working mum

She is a breath of fresh air and has really helped us to think positively in times of uncertainty. Hopefully you can benefit from Joada’s advice, too.

From Joada

As a small business owner, I am feeling the pressure having lots of video projects and training cancelled for the next couple of months at least.

I won’t be able to carry out most of my usual duties, however I plan to use the time wisely to keep business moving forward.

I thought I would share with you some tasks that you can do from home, things we often don’t get time to do or can’t prioritise because we are so busy working in the business.

Most importantly, prioritise getting your finances in order.

Invoice clients, chase late payments and apply for any support you may be able to get, including government grants, increasing overdrafts, loans – whatever works for you. Cash flow must come first.

If you have children at home, this may not be as easy to do as if you were in the office. But if they are of school age you could use their learning time to get the laptop out, too. And there is always plenty of time when the children have gone to bed.

We are all in the same boat and nobody likes being confined to the house. But turn this negative stage into a positive outcome by using this rare spare time wisely to help future proof your business and get back up and running quickly once the COVID-19 situation has eased.

Here are some tasks you could look at doing over the next five weeks of uncertainty.

  1. Research your industry news and updates
  2. Research competitors to find out what they are doing, particularly at this time
  3. Redesign business cards, stationery/literature, menus etc
  4. Start using new software like Quickbooks, Sage or Sharepoint – this makes working remotely even easier
  5. Update your IT/systems
  6. Back up your work – again, software like Sharepoint means your documents can be backed up to ‘the cloud’ and any employees can access the same files
  7. Set some new objectives: sales targets, training staff, new products
  8. Create a marketing plan ready for the comeback – will you focus on print advertising, Facebook ads, Google AdWords or a mixture. Reassess your target audience depending on marketing campaigns
  9. Continue to create social media content and keep your customers updated online as to what is happening with your business through stories or posts
  10. Schedule social media content using free online tools. This will mean you aren’t on your phone or computer constantly
  11. Take photos where applicable
  12. Film short videos
  13. Update your company’s website or look at creating one if you currently don’t have an online presence
  14. Improve the SEO on your website (or get up to speed on the benefits of SEO)
  15. Export data from your social media accounts
  16. Analyse your website analytics and collect data
  17. Find local networking groups for after the summer
  18. Find local business that could be potential partners – instead of scrolling through Facebook for hours on end, use social media productively to research the market ie. LinkedIn connections
  19. Update your terms and conditions, health and safety policies, equality and diversity policies
  20. Streamline your methods: could you work more flexibly, could you lower overheads by cutting unnecessary expenditure?
  21. Tidy out your office
  22. Put things up for sale such as old laptops and equipment sat in cupboards
  23. Watch TED talks about your weakest subject
  24. Create a customer feedback questionnaire
  25. Rest, be kind to yourself and celebrate your successes

For more positive advice people can connect with me on Linkedin, Joada Celeste Allen

Help and support

For online business support, contact HMRC here

You can also find more information about the Government’s guidelines surrounding Coronavirus and what financial support there is for businesses and individuals here

If you have any advice for how business owners, families, or the elderly can use their time during this crisis we’d love to hear from you.

And don’t forget, Aroundtown Magazine is always here to support South Yorkshire businesses with their marketing. We distribute 20,000 high quality A4 copies bi-monthly. Get in touch to discuss the various options we offer.