6 creative responses to coronavirus challenges from UK small businesses
From focusing on delivery and collection services to experiments in crowdfunding, discover how businesses in Britain have adapted to the challenges posed by coronavirus
If you look around any British high street or shopping centre at the moment, you’re likely to see closed signs and shuttered facades. And, it doesn’t stop there: with as many businesses as possible required to operate remotely, offices are empty, public transport is reduced, and the roads are quiet.
Coronavirus is proving to be a major challenge for UK business, and it’s uncertain how long this situation will last – or how much worse it's going to get. While these are undeniably trying times, we’re here to highlight some of the most innovative responses from the small business community to the challenges posed by the pandemic.
We’ve searched high and low to find the best examples of how small businesses are taking big steps. Whether you’re looking for inspiration or reassurance, read on to discover how businesses across the country are fighting back.
Operating delivery services
If people have to stay at home, how can businesses bring the outside world to their customers? Retailers and other outlets have responded by ramping up their existing delivery services, or even introducing new ones. By doing so, not only can businesses find a way to keep trading during these testing times, but once in place, it’s a function that can continue to boost business after the pandemic has finally passed.
- Signature Brew has created the ‘Pub in a Box’, designed for people to drink its beers at home. And what's more, musicians whose tours have been cancelled have been hired to make the local deliveries!
Providing collection options
Another option that’s particularly ideal for hospitality and retail businesses is letting customers collect items from the premises, if safely possible.
- Pidgin – this restaurant now offers three course meals that are prepared by the team and can be reheated at home, available for collection or delivery via Uber
Raising crowdfunding finance
Ensuring a business has enough money for paying staff, suppliers, and other bills is a major concern during the coronavirus pandemic. Depending on the amount of money and its intended use, businesses could turn to their communities to help them out. And by sharing on social media, they could reach a wider audience, too.
- BargeEast is running a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for staff and projects
Changing content formats
Whether it’s moving offerings online, or creating content that’s relevant to the current situation, businesses have adapted by making their products available in different ways. This could be as a response to avoiding non-essential contact, or to connect with customers online and via social media, providing a sense of community even while the country is practicing social distancing.
- Little Yoga Stars has changed its children’s yoga sessions from in-person to online
- Baby2Body has launched new content focusing on health and workouts for pregnant women and mothers in isolation
- PopUp Business School is running a series of Facebook Live sessions offering free advice for small business owners
Supporting the community
It’s clear that at times like these, people need each other – and businesses can use their platforms and resources to facilitate connection and offer support. Whether it’s promoting a worthy cause, or helping to make life easier, businesses can step in and create change for the greater good.
- Florence has launched National Care Force, a free platform that connects healthcare workers, volunteers, and social care services
- Hastee is an app that allows staff to access some of their earnings before payday. The service is now available free of charge to the NHS and other critical services for six months
- Saveg is offering promo codes for NHS staff, and two free pies for those who order that are aged 65+
Saving staff jobs
As more and more businesses have either had to close temporarily or find new ways of operating, it’s meant that the status of some jobs has become precarious. There’s so much uncertainty surrounding coronavirus itself, and staff not knowing if their jobs are secure can only add to it. Fortunately, some businesses have found ways to redistribute staff to keep operations going, and to retain their team members.
- A.M. Custom Clothing has set up an online shop to sell printed clothing to the public. This is to offset the decline in commercial orders, and in turn helps save jobs throughout the process
UK business has had to change suddenly and drastically because of issues created by coronavirus. Although it’s been difficult, many businesses have adopted creative and innovative ways of getting by during these testing times.
Whether it’s a restaurant or retailer switching to only offering collection or delivery services, or organisations providing content for free (or other support to the community), businesses in the UK have displayed ingenuity and resilience.
While there’s no timeline or template to follow for this scenario, our article showcases some of the best small business solutions to the coronavirus crisis. For more information, read our pages on:
- Should my business go cashless?
- How to create a business continuity plan
- Moving your business online