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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.

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. 

Meet The Match!

by Sarah Henderson

Are you furloughed and would like to volunteer your time? Or are you a small business or voluntary sector organisation looking for support? The Match might be just what you’re looking for. 

The Match connects skilled professionals who are furloughed from their jobs with small businesses and charities for strategic and practical business support during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The scheme is powered by Echo, and was initiated by Echo, Loughborough University London and Hackney Wick and Fish Island Creative Enterprise Zone, and aims to support the vibrant local ecosystem of small creative businesses, self-employed creatives, charities and community groups that make this part of East London distinctive.

Since we launched The Match in mid-May, we’ve had offers of help and expertise in areas including fundraising, legal advice, videography, social media, branding, copywriting and lots more. 

If you’re currently furloughed and would like to volunteer your time, or if you’re a small business or VSO looking for support, you can sign up for free at economyofhours.com/thematch

Funding available for businesses and organisations

by Sarah Henderson

We’ve collated sources of funding available for businesses and organisations:

Funding for businesses

  • You can find the latest government grants and loans available here
  • On 2nd May, the government announced a top up to their business grant fund scheme, expanding eligibility to businesses based within coworking spaces – details here
  • Resilience and recovery loan fund – for businesses with a minimum turnover of £400k
  • The Pay It Forward Scheme by London growth hub helps businesses stay afloat by pre-selling services

The London Growth Hub have loads of useful info and guidance on how to access government support.

Funding for arts, culture and voluntary sector organisations

Grants Online has been updating a pretty comprehensive list of funds available here.

We recommend this free tool by Blackburn and Darwen Council for searching for local funding you might be eligible – it’s not in our local area, but the tool works to search grants across the UK.

We also have a number of volunteers offering 1:1 fundraising support via The Match.