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Winter

Tough Winter Ahead

Top tips to help small businesses through winter

As Britain’s high streets prepare to return to life in time for Christmas, small business owners have been given tips for coping with a still uncertain winter.

This year’s Small Business Saturday – an annual celebration that encourages consumers to ‘shop local’ – couldn’t be better timed, with December 5th falling three days after the English national lockdown lifts.

Organisers have matched firms with experienced business mentors and provided free virtual workshops and live-streamed advice, focused on key tools to handle the impact of the pandemic, such as embracing online, diversifying, managing cash-flow and improving mindset and mental health.

“Small businesses are facing a really hard winter, and many don’t have much to fall back on,” said Michelle Ovens, director of Small Business Saturday UK.

“They need as much support as possible to power through, which is why we’ve teamed up with BT Skills for Tomorrow to offer virtual mentoring, workshops and advice to small businesses in the run up to Small Business Saturday.

“This year’s campaign is more vital than ever, and we’re encouraging all small businesses to join in and for the public to get behind them like never before.”

Now in its eighth year, Small Business Saturday is a grassroots, not-for-profit campaign, which takes place in the run-up to Christmas.

Its nationwide virtual tour has been running for over three weeks, with a local focus on over 30 UK towns, everywhere from Edinburgh, to York to Belfast, with final ‘stops’ set to include Southampton, Brighton, Guildford, and London over the coming weeks.

And the campaign has issued a list of five top tips for small business owners, struggling after national and localised lockdowns have kept many customers at home.

  1. Embrace new technology– Even if your business used to be completely face-to-face there are digital alternatives that could help you continue during lockdown. Spend some time learning new digital skills and adopting the right tools to help you reach customers through new channels.
  2. Keep in touch with your customers– update them on how your business is adapting and new things you are offering. If you have had to close or pause operations, make sure you stay in touch and stay relevant.
  3. Protect your cashflow– review all your outgoings and focus on keeping costs as low and flexible as possible, with a limited number of big outgoings. Keep in touch with your suppliers to see how you might manage payments.
  4. Continue to diversify– keep pivoting your business model to continue trading, as the world carries on changing. Don’t rely on one product or market, think about alternative services you could offer that has not been hit by Covid-19 or have thrived during lockdown.
  5. Make the most of Small Business Saturday– taking place on December 5th, this nationwide campaign encourages people to celebrate and support small businesses and to shop local on the day itself, as well as the run-up and beyond. All small businesses can participate, by running promotions, getting listed on the Small Business Finder, and downloading marketing materials via its website.
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