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Coronavirus: useful resources + support

Collated resources and support to help you survive and thrive during this time. You’ll find support for employees, employers, freelancers and small businesses but also plenty of other topics to look after your wellbeing, lift your spirits and keep you smiling.

How creative SMEs can adapt to the new normal

by Selsabil Amine

At Echo, we have always believed in the importance of peer networks in supporting businesses to thrive. But one part of having a successful network is knowing where your own business is headed in the ‘new normal’, where we will continuously face uncertain lockdown measures.

As a small business owner, it’s tough to do and think of everything on your own, so in this blog post, Selsabil Amine puts forward a list of questions and suggestions that creative SMEs can think about to adapt to our new normal.


Continuing lockdown measures are amplifying the need for an engaging online presence. For creative businesses that have traditionally shared their best work ‘face to face’, an authentic and personalised digital transformation is needed for these uncertain times.

Use the 5 suggestions below to start, continue, or enhance your digital transformation.

1. Own your digital transformation

Look into the process of how you create content for your customers. A healthy digital transformation will make you feel at home online, so what did you do before and how can you offer that, something similar, or even better, online?

How can you offer a mixture of free and premium digital services?

Is your revenue model meeting your short and long term business needs?

 

2. Believe in your business continuity plan

If you realised that you didn’t have an effective business continuity or disaster recovery plan only when COVID struck, then this is the perfect opportunity for you to build one.

Check out a suggested 5 step plan on how your businesses can bounce back from COVID, then get everyone in your business on board with the plan.

It’s paramount that all staff members understand the content and action points of your continuity or disaster recovery plan.

 

3. Learn, adapt, overcome

An often overlooked part of adaptation to new economic climates is the learning and development of staff and decision makers.

What new things should you learn to adapt to your digital transformation?

What about your staff in content creation? Or your client-facing staff?

It’s easy to become overwhelmed by a perfectionist idea of what executive members and staff should learn, so stick to the most high-impact learning and development needs.

 

4. Build an authentic relationship with your customers

Your customers show you how your business is valuable and important to them and the economic landscape.

Keep your customers aware of any changes to how you will be operating and prioritise their engagement.

Think about how you can develop and maintain an online community.

If you already have an online community, ask your customers for feedback to help you with product planning and visualising your roadmap.

 

5. Face your (decision-making) demons

If COVID has taught us anything, it’s that quick and effective decision-making is going to be a crucial part of navigating the economic, political, and social changes that lay ahead.

What are your internal barriers to quick and effective decision-making?

It’s not about simply reducing the steps to decision-making. Look at where in your business you will need to make proactive and responsive decisions. Ask yourself if the way you make those decisions is helping or hindering your business goals and needs.

 


Echo is working with London Business Hub to host a Peer Networks programme for creative sector SMEs.

You’ll join a small curated group of business peers for action-focused workshops and 1:1 support designed to help you build business resilience, hone your leadership skills and ensure your business thrives through Covid-19 and beyond.

If you are a London-based creative SME, established for at least 1 year with a turnover of £100k+, this might be just what you’re looking for.

Find out more and apply here: https://economyofhours.com/peernetworks

Why your business needs a peer network

by Selsabil Amine

At Echo we have always believed in the importance of peer networks in supporting businesses to thrive. As a small business owner, it’s tough to do everything on your own, and the support, new perspectives and business opportunities that come from having a strong network can be invaluable.

In this blog post, Selsabil Amine explores the value of peer networks for businesses navigating challenge and change.


There are nearly 6 million small businesses in the UK, who make up 99% of the British business population. It’s worrying, then, to discover that SMEs across the country face the issue of not knowing where to look for trusted business related advice when they need it. A trusted professional peer network can help solve this issue, in 3 ways.

  1. Survive and thrive

Since 2020, the phrase “It’s a small world” has never been more relevant. Business tycoons, politicians, consumers, journalists, and investors alike are well aware that your world and the information you have access to is down to your network.

Developing and maintaining a trusted network that you can access virtually will allow you to engage with trusted business peers beyond the restrictions of the ‘new normal’ set by the coronavirus.

With the incentive to enhance online business presence, engaging with a virtual network offers the opportunity to collaborate with business partners flexibly. When once you may not have had the time to take a train ride to connect with someone new, you can click ‘Call’ instead.

  1. Two heads are better than one

When presented with a business challenge, the last thing you want is a maze of boisterous business gurus offering you advice for a fee. Annoyingly, that is the reality for many small businesses.

The Business Productivity Review published that many businesses found it difficult to not only compare support services but also trust the service to deliver the intended results. As businesses tend to seek support during times of pressure and change, the need for a trusted recommendation becomes crucial.

The Review showed that businesses who were able to navigate the maze of the business support market were more likely to use their existing professional network to find the best opportunities for them. They were able to access their contacts but also their contacts’ contacts to broaden their search.

  1. Act upon best practices

When facing a challenge, accessing advice on how to implement daily best practices can transform a business. Developing and maintaining a trusted professional network is a great way to learn and share best practices.

A peer network becomes increasingly important during a period of assessment of business costs and opportunities. This is because an assessment period defines how a business leader implements their response to the realisation that something in their business needs to change. Engaging with a trusted professional support network can help leaders identify the best ways to take their next steps and boost productivity.


Echo is working with London Business Hub to host a Peer Networks programme for creative sector SMEs.

You’ll join a small curated group of business peers for action-focused workshops and 1:1 support designed to help you build business resilience, hone your leadership skills and ensure your business thrives through Covid-19 and beyond.

If you are a London-based creative SME, established for at least 1 year with a turnover of £100k+, this might be just what you’re looking for.

Find out more and apply here: https://economyofhours.com/peernetworks

 

5 ways businesses can bounce back from COVID

by Selsabil Amine

We all want to know how to survive and thrive in the ‘new normal’ created by COVID-19, so welcome to Echo’s series of articles on business resilience. You can also access opportunities to develop skills in crowdfunding, social media strategy, and digital marketing through Echo’s Digital Skills Workshops.


The coronavirus has introduced the world to the beginning of a unique economic era.

Marked with uncertainty and instability, we have already lost 230 000 small businesses to the economic effects of the pandemic. Small businesses make up 99% of all British businesses, so their resilience is vital to our local and national economies.

It seems to be a perfect time to rethink business strategy, so this is how a small business can respond to crises, even without a big budget for expert teams.

1. Understand which of your business challenges existed before the coronavirus crisis and which were caused by the coronavirus crisis

Crisis or not, businesses go bust all the time, so it’s crucial to determine what your business needs are for survival during a stable economic environment.

When you understand and accept those needs, you can then create a strategy to respond to the business needs created from the coronavirus crisis. These strategies must work alongside together, so make sure you prioritise what needs you respond to first.

 

2. Find out where your cash flow is coming from

Understanding your customers is the key to sustaining them. Find out what kind of customers are most interested in your business.

What do they like buying from you? What are their spending habits within your business and with your competitors? Most importantly, how can you be there for customers when they want to buy something from you? Going through this process will highlight which customers to focus your marketing strategy around.

 

3. Get specific about what value your business brings 

 Your customers buy your products because they believe it provides them with a value. So, it’s vital to understand how your customer interacts with the value you create. Use the information from Step 2 to help you. Take what is most important to your customers and make that known and catered for in your communications to them.

 

4. Be realistic and practical about your capabilities

Now that you have an awareness of the ratio between your business challenges and business potential, you can determine how to move forward with what you can offer.

Can you maintain your past products? Are present and potential customer expectations in line with what you can provide? Now is the time to get real about what you can provide, so you can clearly and precisely set customer expectations.

 

5. Create an action plan

The first 4 steps will have highlighted the opportunities you have to respond to a crisis. Creating an action plan means that you can clearly prioritise which business needs must be met, which opportunities you can start planning for, and what decisions can make that happen. When you have an action plan in place, you must create a time limit for each major decision. 

This is important because you can choose how long a major decision is valid before you review it. This will cultivate a forward moving vision of your business and give you a sense of what to look out for.

Following these 5 steps will help you navigate the ups and downs of our economic landscape. However, it’s a continuous process and responding to crises will look different in different circumstances.  

 

If you’re interested in learning more and sharing your skills with brilliant businesses, sign up to become an Echo member and be part of the skills sharing economy.

You can also sign up for Echo’s upcoming series of Digital Skills Workshops for small businesses with topics such as crowdfunding, social media strategy, and digital marketing.

 

This article was written by Selsabil Amine, an MSc student at Loughborough University London. Selsabil is currently a communications volunteer with The Match and is researching crisis communications in the political world. She is passionate about public relations and enjoys learning how effective communication strategies are created and received.

This article features recommendations based on Ritter and Pederson’s study into how the coronavirus is impacting business models. Access the abstract here.

 

Why the key to small business resilience is skill sharing

by Selsabil Amine

We all want to know how to survive and thrive in the ‘new normal’ created by COVID-19, so welcome to the first in a series of articles on business resilience. Through our upcoming posts, you’ll learn what the practical side of business resilience looks like as well as opportunities to develop business resilience with Echo.


The Match started off as an experiment and ended up providing an eye-opening insight into the ‘new world’ that small businesses and organisations must now operate in.

Set up by a team at Echo – a skills sharing platform transforming the face of volunteering as we know it – the idea was to connect furloughed professionals with the businesses that need their skills to get through the difficulties presented by the pandemic.

Historically, we know that small businesses and organisations tend to ‘muddle through’ economic, environmental, and social disasters. But ‘muddling through’ isn’t going to cut it during an economic downfall caused by a global pandemic.

Sure enough, small businesses, charities, freelancers, and collectives got in touch with The Match. Their most pressing needs were overwhelmingly clear: how do I adapt my business to a suddenly remote world; and how do I get the funding to do that? In short – how do I now become a resilient business?

The term ‘business resilience’ was once a buzzword for an organisation’s ability to ‘bounce back’. But today, and for the foreseeable future, answering the question of how to ‘bounce back’ is paramount. Having a crisis response plan is often associated with big-budget companies armed with in-house teams who have a variety of options of how they put out fires.

The sad truth, however, is that small businesses and organisations tend to firefight during crises with limited internal expertise and little to no guidance from a pre-prepared plan. While many businesses furloughed staff in order to stay afloat, small businesses and organisations have to find a way better than ‘muddling through’.

The Match fills this skills gap and successfully connects furloughed professionals in marketing, fundraising, and business strategy with the small businesses and organisations who need them.

Benefiting from tailored advice, various organisations have received insight into how to take the next steps forward into this new world. From advice on how to approach a new customer base to writing funding applications, filling this skills gap is the key to sustaining opportunities in small business resilience.

However, while more and more furloughed professionals go back to work, small businesses still need those crucial one-to-one chats. Volunteers skilled in areas like marketing, fundraising strategy, and social media management are still needed.

Even from 1 hour, professional volunteers can directly impact a small business by sharing their skills through The Match. Sign up as a professional volunteer, and be part of leading small businesses and organisations. ‘Muddling through’ just won’t work. 


This article was written by Selsabil Amine, an MSc student at Loughborough University London. Selsabil is currently a communications volunteer with The Match and is researching crisis communications in the political world. She is passionate about public relations and enjoys learning how effective communication strategies are created and received.