Across Britain, countless business owners have their business closed due to coronavirus. It’s a deeply worrying time. So it’s no surprise that many self-employed business owners are concerned about the survival of their business.
What to do? Individual circumstances vary, but the basics will be the same for virtually every business affected.
If you closed your business because of coronavirus, then it’s important to check whether this was actually a course of action that the government required. Misinformation is rife, and the actual regulations are more permissive than many business owners may suspect. Personally, for instance, I know of two self-employed jobbing gardeners – one of whom has stopped working, while the other hasn’t.
It’s also the case that many business owners have closed their businesses because of concerns over adequate social distancing and protective equipment.
So to make sure the government really requires you to close your business due to coronavirus, check the exact wording of the government guidance on closing businesses.
With your business closed due to coronavirus, you still have bills to pay and you need to put food on the table. You may need to be imaginative, but there may be ways to continue to make sales.
Food and drink businesses can sell takeaway food and drink, for instance. Forget government planning regulations that may prohibit this – all those restrictions have been lifted. (See the link above for the detail on this.)
Businesses that aren’t food and drink businesses can still trade, as long as their premises remain closed to the public. Mail order and online sales are working for some businesses. Others are taking online and telephone orders and doing home delivery.
And service businesses are finding that even with their businesses closed because of coronavirus, revenue can still be generated by employees working from home. Those employees may find it awkward – but it’s better than being furloughed.
If your business operates in the retail, hospitality or leisure sectors, there are cash grants available: up to £10,000 for businesses trading from a property with a rateable value of up to £15,000, and £25,000 for businesses with a property that has a rateable value of £15,001–£51,000. Over £51,000? You’re out of luck.
For other businesses, the government’s recently announced ‘bounce back’ loans for small businesses are likely to be of assistance. Government-backed loans of £2,000–£50,000 will be available, with relaxed eligibility criteria and the government paying the first 12 months’ interest.
Just as usefully, your business may be eligible for coronavirus-related business rates relief.
And if you’re self-employed, there’s help through the government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. This offers taxable grants based on your last three years’ self-assessment income tax returns.
Don’t forget, too, that if you have a bit of extra time on your hands, it’s a perfect opportunity to check your finances. Are you getting the best deals? In particular, it might be a good opportunity to review the best business credit cards.