Research and reports
Many businesses will soon be opening their doors again after long periods of closure during the coronavirus pandemic.
And as restrictions begin to ease across the UK and the roadmap to reopening in England looks like it’s on track, the coming months will be an important time for small businesses. From telling customers you’re back in business to making sure you’re insured, follow our checklist to help you get ready.
If you haven’t reopened since the start of the pandemic, you’ll need to complete a Covid-19 risk assessment. The government says that if you have fewer than five employees, you don’t need to do one.
There’s nothing new here, but here’s a reminder of things to consider:
As the high street opens up, customers will be looking at your business profile page on Google to know whether you’re open. This information appears when you search for your business in Google, so it’s important that it’s up to date.
You should update your page with:
Read Google’s guide on how to edit your business profile for more details.
If your business insurance policy lapsed during Covid-19, or you have different requirements due to changes in the way you run your business, make sure you’re covered before getting back to work.
Next, update your website and social media channels and start marketing. Let customers know when you’re opening and create excitement, whether that’s by sharing photos of new stock on Instagram, emailing clients about booking appointments, or filming a video in your fitness studio.
Looking for more tips? Why not refresh your memory with our guide to marketing for small businesses?
While we’re all excited about getting back into the world, the demand for online services is likely to continue – whether that’s to support those still shielding or simply for convenience.
Depending on your business, many of you may have pivoted to offer services online over the past year, so it could be a good idea to continue this alongside reopening for in-person services if you can.
Going back to work after a long time away is likely to be mentally taxing, whether that’s because you’re working through long client waiting lists, rebuilding networks, or just getting used to a new routine.
We’ve all spent many months at home, so it’ll take time to adjust to life after lockdown. To avoid burning out, make sure you’re taking time to look after yourself as you transition back to work – we have a range of wellbeing resources for the self-employed, from stress and anxiety support to nutrition and sleep tips.
If you’re welcoming staff back to the office, make sure you’re looking after employee wellbeing too. The pandemic has affected everyone differently, so good communication and transparency is important.
Make sure you have a clear budget (both for your personal life and your business) so you can stay on top of your finances as you revive your business. Here, financial coach and author of Black Girl Finance shares her tips on managing financial wellbeing.
While our research into the impact of Covid-19 suggests many small businesses felt that government support didn’t go far enough, you may be able to benefit from the various schemes still running.
From 12 April in England, all outdoor fitness classes, indoor gyms, and swimming pools can reopen, while indoor group classes are set to reopen from 17 May. To prepare your business for reopening, check the government’s guidance for providers of grassroots sport and sports facilities. This includes indoor gyms, fitness studios, and multi-sport facilities.
Non-essential shops can open from 12 April in England. The government guidance for shop owners goes into detail about how you can prepare to safely reopen.
Hospitality venues in England can serve outdoors from 12 April, and are set to open to customers indoors from 17 May at the earliest.
Services including hairdressers, barbers, and massage therapists can open in England from 12 April. Make sure you read the government guidance for close contact services to protect your staff and customers when you reopen.
The reopening dates and government guidance mentioned above is specific to England as the easing of lockdown restrictions is administered by the devolved governments. The links below have information for businesses in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, including risk assessments and safety guidance by sector:
Use the BBC’s coronavirus restrictions checker to see the current restrictions in your area. And always check your national or local authority website for the latest information.
Are you preparing to go back to work soon? We’d love to hear how you get on – let us know in the comments.
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Catriona Smith is a content and marketing professional with 12 years’ experience across the financial services, higher education, and insurance sectors. She’s also a trained NCTJ Gold Standard journalist. As a Senior Copywriter at Simply Business, Catriona has in-depth knowledge of small business concerns and specialises in tax, marketing, and business operations. Catriona lives in the seaside city of Brighton where she’s also a freelance yoga teacher.
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