Like all small businesses, we’re having to adapt very rapidly to the unprecedented upheaval we’re all facing currently.
We have business continuity arrangements in place – they were put in place in case of fire, or flood; we never thought we’d be using them due to a global pandemic, but they work just the same!
We know that many of the people we work with and for will be facing huge challenges both as organisations, but as individuals too.
Support from Welsh Government for businesses has been announced – some links are provided at the bottom of this post.
Even with Government support, many are still going to struggle, so please do have a think about what you can do to support small businesses, sole traders – anyone working in the hospitality, entertainment or retail industries is going to take a huge hit whatever happens.
We are very small, and certainly not in the line of work where we have large profits, but here are a few things we are doing to try and do our bit to help – we know not everyone will be able to do all of this, and we may not be able to sustain it all ourselves if this lasts a very long time, but if others are in a position to do similar, it will start to have some cumulative impact:
- we’ve been following daily updates for the past few weeks on the virus from Government and planning and risk assessing accordingly – we’ve allowed a lot of additional time for that as plans made have had to be amended or changed completely as the situation has progressed;
- we’re following guidance from government to slow the spread of the virus by home working (you can still reach us via the office landline and via email/post – everything will still reach us) and minimising contact with third parties – making use of technology for meetings/group discussions and rearranging what we can whilst being aware of the impacts that delays/cancellations may have on others livelihoods;
- we’ve prioritised (in consultation with our clients) the work we are doing that has the potential for direct immediate impact – notably the markets project where trader’s livelihoods are under immediate threat;
- we are doing our best to find ways of those who trade and sell at our street markets to have opportunities to continue selling their goods – they won’t have the safety of the supermarkets, which will likely remain open and trading no matter what happens, so will need to find other ways of selling as public events are getting cancelled – we aren’t there with that yet but please keep an eye out on the market social media – we will post details of how to get in touch with them directly to order where we can, some will be able to deliver;
- even if we can continue with our markets in some format (we’re awaiting further guidance on this) we’ll have to cancel the live music as we’ll still have to minimise the chances of people congregating, but we’re telling the musicians that were booked that they can invoice us now anyway and we’ll pay it straight away and they can hold a performance for us on credit for a later date;
- we’ve made a commitment to our salaried staff that as long as the company owner has a job, so do they;
- we are actively trying to find additional work for sessional staff not on salaried contracts with us;
- we’re continuing to pay our cleaner weekly even though our offices are closed for the time being and won’t need cleaning for a while;
- we are continuing with retainer agreements with key suppliers for as long as we possibly can – asking them to ‘bank’ the time for us to use at a later date if we can’t use it right now but still paying for them as scheduled;
- we will pay all small suppliers as soon as possible after receiving their invoices, rather than using the full payment term windows (though we usually do this anyway);
- we are going to make some ‘suspended purchases’ from local businesses where we can – buying teas / coffees that they can donate to someone homeless and perhaps to the key workers that are holding our society together right now, and (weird though it felt doing it in March) we’ve just pre-booked our staff Christmas meal with a small local business and asked them to invoice us now for the deposit, which we’ll pay straight away;
- we are checking in regularly with those who work for us as home working can be isolating and bad for mental health and the situation more generally is incredibly stressful;
- we recognise that people are under immense stress and that it is not ‘business as usual’ for anyone and won’t be for some time – we will do our best to plan for that and to help and provide a kind ear wherever we can;
- we’re talking about and planning for projects we’d like to do after the outbreak subsides and things begin to return to normal to maintain optimism; and
- we’re going to do our best to find things that make us smile and laugh.
It’s going to be a tough few months, some are going to struggle more than others but everyone is facing stress.
Few if any organisations/individuals that you deal with will have truly planned for this specific scenario – it’s new to everyone and is unprecedented in our lifetimes and there are no models to follow.
Collectively, we can do this.
Be patient, be thoughtful, be kind – take care of yourselves and each other.
Here are links to the letters from Welsh Government and links to some help for those running businesses whose livelihoods are under threat:
You can sign up to the Business Wales newsletter, which will include the most up to date information on business support in Wales.
You can also get further information here: https://businesswales.gov.wales/coronavirus-advice. They are updating the links as soon as information is available on support for business owners.