We’re not gonna lie, the COVID-19 pandemic has shaken us all to our very core. Life’s been turned upside down, behaviours have shifted beyond belief and none of us know what’s coming next. And if you have a startup or small business, you’re probably a little (OK, a lot) worried right now. 

Forget business booming, most of us would settle for merely surviving right now. But what does that look like? How can you increase your chances of successfully weathering the coronavirus storm? Keep reading to find out.

By re-imagining what and how you sell, you can  stay relevant to your customers

1. Pivot to online (if you haven’t already)

With face-to-face living being extremely limited for many people across the UK right now, businesses based on footfall and customers buying in person are facing a seriously tough time right now. If you want your business to maximise sales, now is the time to make sure you’re properly set up online. 

For those of you who relied on your stores or physical outlets to drive revenue, pivoting to focus on your digital sales could save your business. By re-imagining what and how you sell, you can  stay relevant and accessible to your customers.

Introduce delivery options, build or rebuild your website to give a robust ecommerce platform, and invest in some digital marketing to give it a boost. Online sales are increasing by the minute, so make sure your business is in a position to cash in on the online spending boom.

If you can shift or focus on particular products or services, here are some that seem particularly popular at the moment:

  • Food and drink
  • Plants and horticulture
  • Homeware and interior design
  • Fitness and wellbeing
  • Education

2. Educate the masses

One of the upsides of lockdowns, curfews and working from home is that a lot of people now have a lot more spare time. Boredom has driven many to embrace e-learning, causing a surge in online course registrations and the use of education platforms like Lynda.com and Udemy.

If you have a wealth of knowledge on a specific subject or your business usually offers specialist services, you could offer online education in those areas. We’ve noticed lots of fitness instructors and yoga teachers have moved into teaching the future generations of PTs and yogis online. 

Some top tips for setting up an online education service:

  • Focus on creating quality content with lots of videos
  • Create a plan of all the topics you can cover 
  • Offer various formats, such as webinars, live classes, pre-recorded tutorials and PDF downloads.
  • Set up different levels of content with a tiered pricing system
  • Invest in a reliable, secure digital payment system

The key to any marketing collaboration is to make great content your goal

3. Team up with influencers

If you’re looking for a way to reach a wider audience and engage with new customers, social media influencers could be your ticket to success. Influencers typically have a very engaged following and can offer access to their specific audience.

There are three key factors to remember when considering which influencers to collaborate with:

Make sure the fit is right – You need to find the right influencer with the right audience for your business. Don’t just pick one out of a hat, do your homework to understand your target audience and then look at which influencers appeal to the same audience.

Bigger isn’t always better – When it comes to influencer marketing these days, there is such a thing as having too many followers. If they have 100,000s of followers, they’ll charge a fortune per post and it’ll be harder for your business to resonate personally with such a large audience. Instead look for micro influencers (<100,000 followers) who have a closer relationship with their followers and reach a more niche audience.

Create interesting content – The key to any marketing collaboration is to make great content your goal. It’s not about shamelessly plugging your brand. Be smart, give the audiences something they’ll appreciate and let your influencers lead you on the type of content that goes down well on their feeds.

With new consumer behaviours, it’s important to pay attention to the market

4. Do a marketing makeover

It’s highly unlikely your marketing plans from 12 months ago will hold up in the new post-COVID world. Sorry about it. But that’s OK, this is your chance to come up with some fresh and exciting marketing ideas.

With new consumer behaviours and a shift in economic structures, it’s important to pay attention to the market. Not how it was, or how you wish it were, but how it is right now. Who’s succeeding? Who’s failing? What are customers loving or complaining about?

Take time to understand the new landscape and use that knowledge to plan your marketing activity. By taking stock and re-aiming, you’re more likely to succeed. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Embrace email marketing – If you can’t reach your customers in person, their inbox is a pretty good plan b. Craft well-written, informative and personalised email comms. No SPAM allowed.

Va-va-videos – Video is the king of content these days, with at least 50% of consumers using videos to influence their buying decisions. 

Be original and get creative – Now is not the time to blend into the background. Stand out and have fun with your marketing. Make it unique and exciting, and always relatable for your customers.

Lift up your community – We all need more humanity and community in our lives right now. Use your business to give back to your community and customers. Collaborate, donate, uplift and offer help to those most in need.

Successful businesses have passion, drive and a willingness to rise to the challenge. Be one of them.

5. Embrace change (don’t run from it)

One of the biggest tips we can give you right now is to accept and embrace what’s going on in the world. Wishing for the ‘good ol’ days’ won’t help you or your business. The world has changed, possibly forever, so let’s roll with the punches. 

Evaluate the market, research your customers’ new behaviours, identify new competitors and assess your business. Then take your business plan and make a new one, if necessary. With change come new opportunities and fortune always favours the brave (and those willing to evolve).

And remember, it’s not all doom, gloom and bankruptcies. Some businesses are making the most of new trends, others are learning to serve their customers in new ways. What the successful businesses all have in common is passion, drive and a willingness to rise to the challenges they face. Be one of them.

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Crikey, is it almost Black Friday again? How did that happen? This year has been a crazy ride for all of us thanks to COVID-19. But time is flying. Believe it or not, the Black Friday 2020 sale and holiday seasons are rapidly approaching. Shoppers have their bank cards at the ready for a frenzy of bargains and damn good deals. But how can you prepare your business to make the most of the upcoming retail boom?

If you think you’re too late for Black Friday 2020, you’re not too late for Christmas or 2021…

In all honesty, the most prepared businesses will have started preparing in the summer (or earlier). But don’t worry, the unpredictable and constantly unfolding events of this year make it totally understandable if you’re only just getting around to thinking about Black Friday 2020 now.

We’ve put together some top tips to help you maximise the benefits of Black Friday 2020. And, as sales for many retailers are down this year, the Black Friday sale period could leak out up until Christmas and into the New Year. So, even if you think you’re too late for actioning some of our suggestions for Black Friday, you’re not too late for Christmas or 2021.

How have shopping habits changed?

There is no doubt that shopping habits have changed dramatically over the years, and even more drastically this year. The poor British high street was already in decline pre-COVID, and the battering it’s taken with lockdown in 2020 is too much for some retailers to bear. 

Online shopping is here to stay people, so you need to make sure your business is optimised to flourish

With millions of us being confined to our homes for months, online sales skyrocketed and retail sales plummeted. Online platforms like Amazon, eBay and ASOS saw a huge increase in demand for their products, whilst high street stores were left out in the cold.

Recent research indicates that the effects of lockdown will permanently change consumer behaviour in the UK. And businesses that have survived need to embrace this change if they want to survive. Online shopping is here to stay people, so you need to make sure your business is optimised to flourish as an ecommerce platform.

Top tips for preparing for Black Friday 2020

1. Be prepared to scale

With online sales going through the roof during 2020, many retailers have seen a sharp increase in their revenue. However, others weren’t so ready to deal with increased online traffic and sales. Being able to scale is hugely important, not just for Black Friday or Christmas but for any time you might see a big increase in demand. Here’s how:

  • Invest in scalable technology
  • Upgrade to a flexible ecommerce platform
  • Increase your online security (like malware blockers, firewalls and security certificates)
  • Make sure your website is hosted on a secure and robust server 

2. Give your network a heads up

We’ve said it a hundred times, preparation is key. And that goes for your Black Friday campaign too. It’s going to be like feeding time in the shark tank, so make sure you have a reliable supply and delivery network in place. Taking time to agree a plan of action ahead of time with your network is extremely useful. 

It’s always good to build good relationships with your supplier and delivery teams, it pays dividends in the long run. And if you can create product bundles, great. If you can pre-pack everything before the big weekend, even better.

3. Ramp up the reviews

Reviews are one of the single most powerful tools you can use to boost your sales. Nowadays peer reviews are one of the most influential factors for customers. We’ve all done it when searching Amazon, you check for the 4+ star products. Remember that for your own products and embrace reviews on your website:

  • Encourage customer reviews by sending post-purchase comms with a review link
  • Make it clear and easy to add a review to your online products
  • Highlight top rated products on your homepage
  • Show customer reviews in a prominent position on your product pages

4. Personalise your comms

Everyone likes to feel special, and your customers are no different. Make an effort to segment your customer lists in advance and plan your comms to reach the right audience. Blanket discounts are fine, but even better is a targeted campaign that offers products of interest to relevant customers.

Start a week or so ahead of Black Friday and send out a couple of pre-sale emails to whet their appetite. A teaser for your upcoming deals will help build interest and excitement.

5. Capture that data

Not only is an event like Black Friday a great boost for sales, it can also be the perfect opportunity to build your database of customers and potential customers. Try offering an additional discount for signing up, or offer a discount alert service for customers to register for. 

The key here is to make it mutually beneficial, so your customers get something in return. And then value their details by only contacting them with relevant or useful information – don’t be a spammer business (no one likes a spammer!).

6. Master the motivation

Anything you can do to help motivate customers to buy your products will help increase your sales. It will depend on the products and deals you’re offering, but some of the most effective ways to motivate a sale include:

  • Countdown timers (both on your site and in email comms)
  • Dynamic pricing to show the latest discounted price 
  • Add customer reviews to any abandoned basket emails you send out
  • Recommendations can work a treat (e.g. highlight best sellers or trending products)
  • Incentivise with a tiered discount system – the more they spend the more they save. 

We hope you find these tips useful. And just a reminder that these tips also work year round for ecommerce, so if you can action them for Black Friday 2020 then aim for Christmas or a New Year sale – or Black Friday 2021.


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The world is crazy right now. We all know that. COVID-19 has already had a pretty devastating effect on economies and job markets around the world, and here in Blighty we’re no exception. We’re being warned to prepare for the worst recession in history. And, to put it bluntly, it sucks and nobody really knows what’s going to happen.

The return of lockdown measures means more businesses are being forced to close. That’s on top of the first round of casualties from the first lockdown. Online retail may have boomed, but the majority of other businesses have taken a significant beating financially and emotionally.

With unemployment and bankruptcy rates soaring, what can we expect in the coming months and years? Is there a light at the end of this tunnel of doom and gloom? We take a look at what the impending recession could mean for the UK and our job market.

What is a recession?

Good question. We’ve all heard the term ‘recession’, but what does it really mean? Put simply it means the economy is in decline, and has been for at least six months (or two consecutive  financial quarters).

In normal life, a healthy country’s economy is expected to grow and its citizens, on average, get a little richer as the GDP increases. But a recession is the opposite of that. The economy contracts and the GDP falls.

When a recession continues for long enough and the effects worsen, it’s called a depression. You may have heard of the Great Depression, which started in 1929. That was a recession on steroids.

What does a recession mean for me?

A recession isn’t just about the GDP – which, in itself, is often hard to grasp in real-life terms. Recessions cause a structural shift in the economy, causing a reduced demand for goods and services on a national scale.

The results? Businesses collapse, redundancies increase, and salaries fall. With fewer positions available and more people looking for work, unemployment skyrockets and it becomes a lot harder to get a new job. Yeah, it’s pretty rubbish.

2020 job losses in the UK

During the first lockdown in the UK, we would’ve been saying that the good thing is that most people were furloughed so the job ‘loss’ would be temporary and then we’d go back to a vibrant workforce. But things haven’t quite worked out like that.

The furlough scheme has helped, but some businesses just couldn’t survive and have had to make permanent redundancies or shut down completely. We’ve already seen tens of thousands of job losses in the UK and it seems like we’re hearing of more large-scale redundancies on a daily basis.

Big companies like Shell, easyJet and Cineworld have already announced major redundancies and they keep coming. And not to be too depressing, but a study done by the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex has predicted we could be facing a total of over 6.5 million jobs lost due to the economic fallout of COVID-19.

The biggest losers

Sadly we’re not talking about weight loss champions. In a recession there are always industries that are worse hit, and true to form economic effects of COVID-19 have certainly been harder for some.

Quarantine and social distancing have drastically changed the way we live and, consequently, massively affected the services we use and products we consume. The biggest sufferers from this shift in behaviour so far have been:

  • Travel

  • Retail

  • Events

  • Live music and performance arts

  • Hospitality

Are there any winners?

Although it might sound like it, not everyone will be facing complete financial ruin because of the recession. In tough economic times, there are always some who will find they flourish.

Despite retail being one of the worst hit, online retail and delivery services saw a huge rise in popularity during lockdown. Being stuck at home we all bombarded Amazon, eBay and other online stores for constant purchases – which led to a huge demand for delivery folks.

Web design and digital support services have also seen a positive impact of the online boom. Many companies who didn’t take their online presence seriously before COVID-19 have realised they need to give their websites and online platforms a bit of TLC and are needing the help of digital professionals.

Some freelancers are also noticing that they’re workload has increased during lockdown. With permanent headcounts being slashed the idea of using freelancers who can work on an ad hoc basis has become much more appealing. Though this effect is sporadic and dependent on industry demands.

Recession-proof jobs (sort of)

OK that title is a little misleading. There are no jobs that are 100% recession-proof. But now that we have your attention, there are some jobs that are generally less affected in a recession.

  • Medical professionals (including vets)

  • Social workers

  • Accountants

  • Law enforcement

  • Legal professionals

  • Teachers and education professionals

  • IT and digital support teams

  • Mechanics & vehicle repair

  • Public transportation

Tips for launching a new business in a recession

We’re not gonna lie, launching a new business is a risk at the best of times so a recession won’t help. But that doesn’t mean you should hide away and not launch your business. You just need to take some extra precautions, do your homework and be extra aware of the economic landscape you’re entering into.

Here are some of our top tips if you’re launching a business or plan to in the near future:

  • Do lots of research. And then do some more. Understanding your target market, potential customers and the state of the economy is more important than ever. Find your niche and identify the solution you’re offering.

  • Be ready to pivot. Again, something you could say is always important for a new business. Be ready to react to shifts in customer demands, the economic environment, or social change. Keep up-to-date with the news and make decisions for your core business to adapt to the changing landscape.

  • Start small. Now isn’t the time to be jumping into huge ambitious ventures or racking up lots of business debt. Take it slow and test the water on a small scale. If things work out then start scaling your business at a moderate pace.

  • Secure funding. This is always important but even more so in the face of a major recession. Get money in the bank before you start spending it. And when you do spend, make sure every penny is justified for essential business growth.

  • Be kind to yourself. A global pandemic, a widespread recession and launching a new business are three major events to have to deal with independently, let alone all at the same time. Just getting out of bed is an achievement. So look after yourself. Eat well, get a decent amount of sleep, exercise regularly and make sure you get some ‘you time’ every day. And if it all gets too much, take a breath and meditate – it’s life changing!

If you’re looking for inspiration for a business idea, take a look at our top 5 new business ideas post-COVID. Or if your business has suffered during lockdown and you need financial support, check out our guide to post-COVID financial support for small businesses.

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Even before COVID-19 swept across the world, we were seeing major changes in the way businesses operated. The online retail boom, the decline of British high streets, and many household names going into administration. Then COVID came along and ramped things up.

The majority of businesses in the UK have been impacted by COVID-19, in one way or another. With many seeing a huge decline in their revenue, some having to cease trading altogether and others with widespread redundancies.

The result? An unsure economic future for employees and the unemployed. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t also opportunities for the future. There are already some businesses flourishing in the ‘new world’ we’re living in. 

Maybe it’s time you started your own business… In this post we look at the top five business ideas that we think can flourish in the post-COVID world.

Should I start my own business?

Firstly, before we look at the business ideas themselves it’s really important for you to consider if starting your own business is the right step for you. Starting a business takes hard work (and often a bit of luck) to make it a success, and you’ll most likely need some capital to get your business off the ground – which, in the current climate, may seem like enough to put you off.

If you’ve got the motivation and means to get started, what type of business could you start post COVID? Take a look at the top five simple business ideas in a post-COVID world.

Dog walking service

If you’re a dog lover or live in a dog-friendly area that’s popular with commuters, then starting a dog walking business could be perfect for you. It involves very little startup capital and during lockdown the number of puppies being bought sky-rocketed, so there’s going to be a lot mo

With Google searches for ‘buy a puppy’ increasing by 166% since lockdown was announced on 23rd March (according to the Dogs Trust) and with lockdown slowly easing across a lot of the UK and people returning to work, now could be the ideal time to start your dog walking service or dog-related product offering.

How to start a dog walking service

  1. Speak to friends and neighbours with dogs. With a little luck you might find that friends and family, or neighbours in your area, can provide you with your first dog walking job.
  2. Put up an ad in the local shop or community centre. Being a local dog walker isn’t about being flashy, and offering your services with a simple ad in a local shop window can work wonders. Using a simple sheet with pull off tabs with your phone number can work really well.
  3. Make sure you have what you need to start your business. Preparation is key. Will you be walking local dogs only for now or will you need to look at transport? Do you need business insurance? Have you researched good dog walks and local dog-friendly parks?

Digital freelancer

If you have experience in ecommerce, online marketing, SEO, copywriting or digital design, you could do well setting yourself up as a digital freelancer. With some businesses looking to reduce their full time headcount, the demand for freelance talent could well increase quite considerably.

How to become a digital freelancer

  1. Reach out to your contacts. As much as we often want to roll our eyes when people talk about our network, it can be hugely important when starting out as a freelancer. Friends or old colleagues may be aware of opportunities, either within businesses they’re currently working in or through their contacts. Let them know you’re going freelance and are looking for work.
  2. Join a freelancer site. There are plenty of online platforms that connect freelancers with companies who have projects they need help with, or need ongoing freelance support. Some good sites to check out are:
  1. Grow your network. Sites such as LinkedIn give you the opportunity to network with business owners, and share knowledge at the same time. Potential clients may find your profile, so make sure it’s accurate and up-to-date. Stand out from the crowd by creating and sharing posts that demonstrate your professional knowledge and expertise.

Delivery driver

Home deliveries have been the saviour for many of us through lockdown – from meals and groceries to impulsive Amazon shopping sprees. The result is that delivery driver demand has never been higher, so it’s a great time to get in on the action if you have your own vehicle.

How to become a delivery driver

  1. You need your own vehicle. For many deliveries you’ll need a car or van, but many meal delivery services often use motorbikes and bikes too – particularly in big cities.
  2. Get insurance. If you’re using your car or van for deliveries you need to make sure you have the right insurance cover that includes commercial use. Otherwise you risk invalidating your policy.
  3. Approach poplar delivery services

They’re now household names so it shouldn’t take you long to find the companies with delivery opportunities. Amazon, Hermes, Deliveroo and UberEats are just a few of the big ones you could look at.

Someone once said there’s no better time to start a business than during a recession. Who said it? Does it hold any value? Honestly? I have no f*cking clue. But, what is true, is that there are definitely opportunities even during difficult times as new things emerge that weren’t there before. A good example during this COVID crisis in the sheer volume of online sales and deliveries. The growth in the sector is unprecedented but only came around as quickly as it did due to COVID

– Eddie Whittingham, Founder

Online seller

Related to home deliveries, online sales have seen a huge increase during lockdown and the trend looks to continue. So, why not join the online retail boom and make money yourself? Savvy online sellers made the most of shortages and demands for items like hand sanitiser, face masks, rubber gloves, and even loo roll.

In fact, it’s reported that the cost of hand sanitiser went up by as much as 400% during lockdown, due to the crazy increase in demand. The supply and demand for such products seems to have calmed down, but selling online is still a quick and easy way to earn cash.

If you don’t have the capital to buy stock upfront, you could consider drop shipping – where you don’t hold stock, instead you take customer orders and pass them straight onto the manufacturer or wholesaler to deliver directly.

How to set up as an online seller

  1. Set up your tech. You’ll need a laptop, computer or tablet to work from. You may need a printer too if you’re going to have to print off delivery notes and labels.
  2. Buy stock (or find a drop shipping partner). This is where you decide if you can afford (and want) to buy in stock to then sell. Or whether it’s better for you to use drop shipping and simply manage customer orders and pass them onto the manufacturer to fulfill the order.
  3. Create your website (or ecommerce accounts). If you’re planning to set up your own online shop to sell products directly then you’ll need to create your website. If you don’t fancy the extensive online marketing and promotion that you’ll need to make your website an ecommerce success then you might want to start by using existing online marketplaces like Etsy, eBay and notonthehighstreet. 
  4. Register your business. There’s a difference between selling a few items on eBay and being an official online seller. If you’re serious about making it your main way of earning, you want to register your business. That could be as a sole trader or limited company, but for tax purposes you want to do things by the book.


This option certainly isn’t for everyone, and requires serious thought whether it’s the right choice for you. Becoming a childminder also involves meeting official requirements, but for the right type of person becoming a childminder can be a really rewarding way to earn money.

How to become a childminder

  1. Organise your premises. To care for multiple children you’ll need suitable premises in good condition – your home is fine, as long as it’s in a good condition. If you’re close to schools that’s ideal. If you’re further away then you’ll need to consider how you’ll manage the school pick-ups or drop-offs, if necessary.
  2. Prepare basic teaching materials. If you’re looking after young children full time, you’ll be expected to teach them some of the early years skills, such as basic literacy and numeracy
  3. Register as a childminder. Unlike if you were working as a babysitter, there’s an official registration process to go through to become a childminder. You’ll need to keep an ongoing learning record of any children under five in your care. There is also likely to be a fair bit of daily admin being a childminder, so being organised is important.

Registration requirements for childminder

The registration requirements to become a childminder can vary, depending on where you live in the UK.

    • In England you will need to be registered with Ofsted on the Early Years Register, if you’re caring for children under 5. For children 5-7 years old, you’ll need to be registered on The Childcare Register.
    • Guidance for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland may differ.

Is it easy to set up a childminding business? 

Starting a childminding business may not be as quick to get up and running as some of the alternatives due to the registration process and admin that will be required. The list of requirements is fairly long, including:

  • Pediatric first-aid certificate 
  • Local authority-approved childminder training course
  • DBS criminal record check (for you and anyone who lives with you over the age of 16)
  • House inspection
  • Childminder insurance

Once you complete the childminder registration process, Ofsted will issue you with a certificate and you’ll be ready to take on your first child.

Friends and family, Facebook and your local school notice boards can be a great way to get your business started. Word of mouth is also incredibly effective for childminding.

For more advice on becoming a childminder, check out Gov.uk.

Post-COVID financial support for businesses

For startups and small businesses during COVID, the Government has launched financial support schemes to help them get them back on track. Check out our guide to financial support to recover from COVID-19.

Business insurance

Whilst business insurance isn’t a legal obligation, it can offer valuable peace of mind for you and your business. Consider public liability insurance if you’re working with the public, employers liability insurance if you have employees, and make sure your stock and equipment is covered.

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