This is number 3 in the series of our COVID19, quarantine life BLOG.
I hope you are all prospering in which ever state of lock-down, social distancing, movement control order or whatever it's called where you are.
For those of you that missed our last few blogs; like many of you we have closed our highstreet business due to COVID19 and like you because of this virus; our family is in quarantine.
For many business owners and entrepreneurs like us, right now is their time to shine, and they might walk away from this with a new skill learnt, their marketing finally under control and the next years projections ready to go - for others each day may be a routine of Netflix and pajamas.
The future of our business is uncertain, and for some the overwhelm of it all will be too much to handle, but as a fellow business owner you know as well as I do, even under normal circumstances we face stress and challenges every single day, and we handle it - so I am confident that we (you and I) can come out of this healthy and thriving.
We are fortunate to have multiple digital businesses to ride this storm but the future of our business is still uncertain.
At Weblocs we are constantly developing our business and working on new features to respond to trends and challenges.
However this blog post isn't about us, its about all of us. We have developed our businesses to work successfully without us being physically any where near it, or our clients - we have essentially been social distancing ourselves for years :)
So we thought we would take this opportunity to try our best to provide some clear concise information, and useful links in the following blog - to help prevent business owners like you and me worrying unnecessarily.
CALCULATE YOUR P&L
Last week we highlighted the importance of thinking long term.
As said in the previous newletter we are in lock-down in Malaysia, where our isolation has already been extended, and friends in China are just now being allowed to conduct essential travel for food; 4 months after Government lock-down started.
In our first BLOG we gave tips on how to lower your outgoings and therefore reduce the impact of closure on your business (view it here) if you have not done this yet I urge you to take a look and work your way through that list.
Small business' that fail to prepare for a long term lock-down, will not open their doors at the eventual end of it.
Below we will give further information, on what to do if you have not yet made any financial steps; what options are already in place and how you can apply/obtain them.
However, now is a great time to complete a P&L spreadsheet. This is a great resource to help you do it https://smallbusiness.co.uk/profit-and-loss-template-20736/ and you can download templates for business' with a turnover of under £85,000 and over £85,000.
Add to this any income such as the business rate grant, and staff furloughed pay grant, add keep in mind any wage top up you choose to make for your team.
This will all give you a "Closed Cost" and show if you can afford this without additional relief or income.
USE TRUSTED ADVICE
There seems to be a great deal of confusion, around the support that the government have put forward for businesses, employers, employees, directors and sole traders.
And although all of the information is out there it is always important to seek only the advice of official sources.
Of course social media has it's place and in fact, some of the "unofficial" peer tested advice is just as important at a time of unprecedented measures.
This has become only too clear, when it comes to coverage by business insurance plans.
I am sure many of you have applied to your insurance policies for business interruption, only to find that "COVID19 is not covered" even with specialist business insurance.
However progress is now seemingly being made by business owners, who, although previously told they were not covered, are now getting somewhere on their insurance claims for forced closure by the government.
This follows a BBC report from regarding the Financial Conduct Authorities announcement that they have ordered insurance companies to pay out claims to firms "as soon as possible" or explain themselves to the watchdog.
Now it is still early days in this drama, but if you have business disrcuption cover on your insurance we suggest you get back in touch with your insurer and point ou the comments made by the FCA.
YOUR NEXT FINANCIAL STEPS
Furlough your team (and yourself)
As business owners lets start with our biggest bill, staff wages. Currently the government is offering 80% of employees wage costs (maximum of £2,500 each) whilst those team members are furloughed.
This means that during the social distancing period, where you team cannot complete their job requirements, they can volunteer to be furloughed by completing and signing a furlough agreement letter - we have a template here.
Whilst these teamed members are furloughed they cannot complete any work for you, or provide any services, however they can volunteer there time for education, team socialising (via video chat) and keeping their own social media portfolio active during the time of closure.
During your own furlough you may also continue to complete basic administration tasks which allow the business to continue running - however you must not be seen to generate any revenue with these tasks.
Are you furloughed and want to work in another job?
Or perhaps you have furloughed your employees and they have asked you if it's ok to work for another employer. Some useful info for you below:
If you are furloughed, you cannot work for the employer that has furloughed you, but it may be possible to work for another employer.
# Check your contract to see if there are any clauses that state you have to ask for permission if you are to work for another employer
# Check your contract to see if it specifically states that you are not permitted to work for another employer, or take part in another business (maybe as a Director of a Company)
# If you are allowed to work for another company, then you need to ensure that your contractual obligations are not breached. For example your contractual hours do not overlap.
# Have you opted out of the working time regulations? Be mindful that these regulations set out clearly what rest periods need to be in place. Your employer has obligations in relation to these.
Apply for the Business Support Grant
The next most important move is to apply for the business support grant fund, which is based on your properties rate-able value.
If you get Small Business Rates Relief normally, or your property has a rateable value of up to and including £15,000 then you will be eligible for a payment of £10,000.
For those in receipt of the Expanded Retail Discount with a rateable value of less than £51,000 will be eligible for a cash grants of £10,000 or £25,000 per property.
Eligible businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of over £15,000 and less than £51,000 will receive a grant of £25,000.
Businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 or over are not eligible for this scheme.
To apply you must visit your county councils website and complete your application. These grants are already being given and typically only taking a few days or less, following completion of the online form.
Defer your VAT payment until the 31st of March 2021
If you pay VAT I am sure this one came as a very welcome announcement; you can choose to delay any VAT payment between March - June until the 31st of March 2021, with no penalties or interest added.
You can of course choose to pay as normal, but otherwise just inform your accountant that you wish to defer - you do not need to contact HMRC.
If you wish to defer but usually pay by DD, make sure you cancel it before its taken and make sure you settle it fully before the end of that last day on the 31st of March 2021.
SO WHATS THE NEXT MOVE?
Being a couple of weeks ahead of the UK in the quarantine race; we know that social isolation can affect everyone (even the most hardened home loving, introverts) in very weird ways.
So we want to dispense a little knowledge that we have picked up, to cope with the current situation, and especially if restriction (most likely) get any worse:
1. MANAGE YOUR EXPECTATIONS - as said above the suggestion that this might bring unprecedented productivity implies we should raise the bar, rather than lower it. Do not underestimate the emotional load that this pandemic brings, or the impact it will have on your productivity.
We have worked from home for going on 6 years now and even we are struggling to concentrate, and finding all to easy distractions around us.
Difficulty concentrating, low motivation and a state of distraction are to be expected. It will take time to adapt so- go easy on yourself.
2. MOVE - we have a split in our house, of those that prefer to be always on the go and active, and those that prefer to chill out on the sofa, with a cuppa and some biscuits. But it doesn't matter which you are, everyone moves - even the most sedate individuals walk an average of 2 miles everyday.
Movement and exercise is of course beneficial in the long term but in the short makes us happy.
We have taken to family Yoga each morning, and some kind of home workout in the afternoon (keep in mind we don't get the hours exercise) If you don't want to stick to a "class" you could simply set your alarm for every hour and so some squats or walk the length of your house.
3. SOCIALIZE - it should really be called physical distancing, not social distancing. Even the most introverted of us need some sense of connection to others for our mental as well as our physical health. We are in social isolation, but we need not feel alone. Reach out to those who might be particularly isolated too.
4. FIND A ROUTINE - Create clear distinctions between work and non-work time, ideally in both your physical workspace and your head space. Find something to do that is not work and is not virus-related that brings you joy. Keep your weekend free. Working in short bursts with clear breaks will help to maintain your clarity of thought.
Add to this healthy meals, sunshine when you can get it and the odd bit of chocolate and we should all stay reasonably with it, ready to open our doors again in the near future!
IF WE HAVE MADE ANY MISTAKES, IN THIS BLOG, OR IF YOU FOUND IT HELPFUL OR UNHELPFUL - PLEASE LET US KNOW.