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How small businesses can meet “return to work” costs

Small businesses are keen to open their doors again but taking this step isn’t straightforward. The process will involve strict safety assessments, physical alternations and workplace reorganisation. Alternative finance can help firms meet the costs.

The calls to restart the economy and get the country back to work are growing louder and louder, not least from small businesses, which have been particularly hard hit. These firms are optimistic and can see light at the end of the tunnel but they need to get the wheels turning again as soon as possible.

Reopening requires investment from under-pressure SMEs

However, reopening in the Covid-19-affected marketplace comes with certain stipulations and related costs. Businesses have to carry out Covid-19 risk assessments and ensure that their workplaces are safe for their employees.

What this reorganisation involves varies according to business type and function, but many workplaces will need to be redesigned to ensure social distancing. And if this distancing isn’t possible, supplementary cleaning will need to be carried out and physical barriers will need to be put in place. The installation of plexiglass barriers by cafes and restaurants is an example of the latter.

In addition, businesses will have to pay particular attention to employee workplace safety and their right to refuse work if they feel that they are at risk. Without the proper preparations around this, firms will leave themselves open to potentially costly cases.

Furthermore, many small businesses face reorganisation in the face of the expansion of e-commerce trade. With the prospect of many consumers continuing to prefer shopping online, businesses are likely to want to develop their e-commerce platforms in order to better target the online market. Such re-shaping will have an impact on staffing, material and physical requirements.

How can small businesses afford restarting costs?

These are all matters that small businesses are having to contend with as they begin to prepare to reopen. The big question is “how can they afford it?”. With these firms already battling for survival, sourcing the capital needed for investment in reorganisation and new materials and processes will be a serious challenge.

Alternative finance can help.

In the wake of prolonged caution from traditional lenders, alternative finance facilities such as invoice finance, asset finance, peer-to-peer lending and crowdfunding are proving a vital source of capital for small businesses, both for safeguarding cashflow and for essential investment. These facilities, which offer a more personalised approach to lending, are helping small businesses survive and grow.

Notably, alternative finance is playing a key role in the government’s Covid-19 business support strategy, in particular with regard to the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, which offers access to a range of finance facilities, including alternative finance services. To this end, the government is continuing to expand the list of accredited lenders, with a number of alternative lenders among the latest to be included.

The move towards reopening is a positive but it won’t be any easy step for many small businesses. It is critical that these firms are aware of all the lending options available to them, both in terms of the government’s various support schemes and regular finance services, such as alternative finance.

To find out more about A&T Business Associates services, contact Steve Bowles on 01903 602211 or steve.bowles@atbusinessassociates.co.uk.

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