As many small businesses tentatively reopen, new figures from Amaiz, the small business banking app, has revealed that nearly half (47%) are now more worried that there will be another lockdown than anything else. This worry beats cashflow (44%) and being in debt (20%) as owners fear the detrimental impact that another lockdown could have on sales, customer relationships and paying staff and bills. The research was carried out for Amaiz by 3Gem.
Alexander Seaton of Alexander Chocolate, an awarding winning bean to bar chocolatier, explained why it is his top concern: “We’re a luxury chocolate brand, so predominantly serve the hospitality industry. The lockdown was devastating; we lost 90% of our sales overnight. That business is now returning. I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that I would be in tears if, after all the struggles of the last few months and surviving on almost no income, we had to halt the business again.”
Verity Clarke of Verity Clarke Hair agrees; “The lockdown meant I was not able to do what I love, hairdressing. I received no government support at all, so I only just survived thanks to the support of my loyal customers who agreed to buy gift vouchers from me. As an industry, I think the mental-health impact on business owners in my sector having to go through it all again would be huge.”
The government put in place a number of measures to help small business affected by the lockdown. However, many, like Alexander Chocolate and Verity Clarke Hair, didn’t qualify for government help. This could be for a variety of reasons. In the case of both Alexander Chocolate and Verity Clarke Hair, they had not been in operation long enough, so both were left with nothing but outgoings.
Matt Goddard, Head of Acquisitions at Amaiz sympathised; “Alexander Chocolate and Verity Clarke Hair are just two of the numerous small businesses we’ve spoken to, during the lockdown, about their struggles, and it is has been heart-breaking to see successful businesses, run by hard-working owners, reduced to nothing. Most are resilient, they have to be to run a business, but a second lockdown, like the one we saw in Leicester, is a terrifying nightmare for many of them.”
Salisbury-based Alexander Chocolate is optimistic about the future, provided the easing of restrictions continues; “One of the first orders after ‘super Saturday’ was for 62.9kg of chocolate, which, coincidently, is exactly my body weight. I hope it is a sign that we’ll bounce back. We’re relieved and grateful that our customers are loyal and are returning to us.”
Colchester based Verity Clarke is also optimistic; “I’m busier than ever and I think that will continue. I offered advice, via Zoom, to people wanting to style and cut their own hair during lockdown, and this helped to nearly double my social media followers.”
Matt concluded: “As businesses start up again it is more important than ever to be well-prepared for any challenges ahead. That means ensuring your business administration is up-to-date, particularly the accounts. It is also important to review the implications of different business scenarios so you can manage worst case, best case and expected scenarios efficiently. If you can, pay your suppliers, you don’t want them to struggle, or close, due to cashflow issues.”
The Amaiz banking app was launched in March 2020, just before the pandemic, and helps small businesses by combining banking with bookkeeping. The premium account is available at £9.99 per month. However, there is a free version that charges just 20p per outgoing transaction. The app comes with numerous unique features that make it possible for business owners to manage their bookkeeping quickly and easily between customers. There is also the option to include a contactless card reader for a low set up fee and transaction charge. To set up their account a business owner simply has to download the app then prove their ID and their right to work in the UK. There is no credit check so the process can be done at home very quickly.