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The Prime Minister’s announcement on May 10th encouraged businesses that couldn’t operate from home to look at ways to return to work. He also outlined a roadmap to start bringing back non-essential shops followed, in time, by other sectors, such as food and drink. Many businesses are now asking themselves how they can get business trading again, and how do they do that safely?  

So, what do you need to consider in planning a safe return?

 

Can I trade yet?

Whilst some businesses had specific instructions to stop trading under lockdown, such as cafes and certain retail shops, some other businesses could trade, but decided not to due to cost or being unable to implement social distancing to protect themselves, staff and customers.

The Government issued a list of businesses which can and can’t open from May 13th.  You should check with your local authority if unsure as to whether your business is restricted.

 

What laws have changed?

Nothing has changed for owners of businesses - the law remains as it was-you have a responsibility for ensuring the safety of your customers, your staff, yourself and the general public in any business activities you do. This includes proving safe workplaces, safe products and safe working practices.  Covid19 has introduced new challenges to meet existing requirements under the Law.

 

How do I make my workplace Covid19 secure?

The Government have outlined 5 steps to make your place of work Covid-19 secure

1. Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment and share with those you work with.

To help, the Government has produced guides for working safely during the Covid outbreak which has tailored information for different business settings and a poster to print and display at your workplace.  You can also get advice from the Health and Safety Executive  and there are risk assessment templates available.

 

2. Have cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures in line with guidance

The Government has published guidance for cleaning non-healthcare settings

You may need to look at your supply chain to see where you can source products, taking into account delivery time and availability, so as not to have in interruption to safe working, should there be a break in supply.

 

3. Take all reasonable steps to help people work from home

It may be time to re-evaluate your route to market and how you interact with customers. Ask yourself how best to meet client needs and expectations. This might involve pivoting to operate in a new way, for instance changing to a food delivery or takeaway service or trading via an online platform

 

4. Take all reasonable steps to maintain a 2m distance in the workplace

This may include reducing capacity, altering opening times, appropriate signage and actively promoting social distancing

 

5. Where people cannot be 2m apart, do everything practical to manage transmission risk.

You may need to consider physical barriers and  personal protective equipment (PPE)

 

What if I don’t have business premises?

You are still responsible for the safe working practice. The Government has produced guides for those who work outside, such as construction workers,  or those working in or delivering to people's homes, such as delivery staff or domestic trades. 

 

What else can I do to prepare my business?
  1. Start planning now - not every business can trade yet, so use this time to start preparing a plan of action.
  2. Budget your costs - you may need to invest in your business to provide a safer environment or to trade online? If so, will I need finance?  Have you accessed the coronavirus business support tool to see if eligible researched a bounce back loan?
  3. Review your margins. You may need to review your pricing because of the extra costs your business now incurs.
  4. Have the right target market  Much has changed following the outbreak and now is the time to take stock of your current position and where the market is going.  Consider what will influence your business using PESTEL analysis (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental and Legal)
  5. Look at your own strengths and weaknesses – do you need to upskill work more effectively online, operate in a new market or even have a change of career and look for new employment.  You may have more spare time on your hands now,  the Government has launched a free skills toolkit with online training and careers support for individuals.

Here at EnterprisingYou we can support the self-employed and gig economy workers of Greater Manchester. For more personalised advice, please sign up our programme.

 

About the author

Phil Starr

Phil Starr

Business Coach at The Growth Company

Phil has a strong financial background having previously established and ran his own financial services company for over 10 years and managing social finance organisations. His experience helps businesses to identify new markets and sales opportunities, driving business growth from a blank sheet and identifying who may be key drivers in new/existing markets.