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Male shopkeeper in locksmith store.

Impact

Get your SME back to business with Barclays’ new online toolkit

08 June 2020

Barclays has launched the Back to Business programme – a new online toolkit designed to help entrepreneurs get back on their feet. Here, industry leaders share their thoughts on the biggest challenges facing SME businesses during coronavirus, from managing cash flow to looking for new markets locally. 

Registration is now open for the Barclays Back to Business programme. The online programme, which officially opens on 22 June, will help businesses across the UK recover from the impact of coronavirus.

Developed in association with the Cambridge Judge Business School – following the success of its collaboration with the bank on the Barclays Scale Up UK Programme – the free online toolkit is set to support SMEs and entrepreneurs build resilience into their businesses to navigate the coronavirus crisis and beyond.

We’re proud to provide a platform for business owners to hone their skills and access vital resources as businesses across the country continue to be impacted by coronavirus

Hannah Bernard

Head of Barclays Business Banking

Business owner working from a cafe

Available to any business, whether they’re a Barclays client or not, the flexible 15-hour programme can be completed at a time that suits participants. The downloadable workbooks, activities and resources cover topics ranging from managing cash flow and debt to navigating unexpected business challenges, and understanding how the pandemic will affect businesses in the future.

The aim of the toolkit is to leave business owners with an understanding of the health of their enterprise, knowledge of how to sustain it during a crisis – and a specially-curated resilience plan that can be easily tested and evolved over time, should they face another challenging period.

Andy Moss, CEO of events company Cube Management, said: “Coronavirus has had a big impact on our industry, which is predominantly sporting events and music. Trialling the Back to Business toolkit has been very enlightening – it has not only refreshed my memory of the practicalities of running a business, but it has refocused my attention on the fundamentals. The next 12 months are going to be tough as we wait for the industry to return, but having the toolkit as an easy to follow resource will allow me to review new solutions for the business in the meantime.”

“We’re proud to provide a platform for business owners to hone their skills and access vital resources as businesses across the country continue to be impacted by coronavirus,” Hannah Bernard, Head of Barclays Business Banking, said. “We stand behind UK businesses and are always looking for new ways to provide help and support to entrepreneurs, business owners and sole traders across the country.”

In this course we will lead you through the thinking, stepping up from our day to day operational work to looking at your business from a higher angle to understand, ‘What are the opportunities that I actually need to set my business up for?

Christoph Loch

Director of Cambridge Judge Business School

Finding opportunities for growth

Speaking in a panel discussion hosted by Barclays and streamed on Facebook Live, Christoph Loch, Director of Cambridge Judge Business School, emphasised how the programme will help business owners identify changes in customer tastes and developments in the market, and then harness these opportunities for growth.

“Not all businesses are totally shut down, but for some businesses even now there are opportunities to look for something new, so in this course we will lead you systematically to ask yourselves, ‘What in my strategic position, what in the value that I offer to my customers in the past is no longer working?’.”

He continued: “Maybe you have the opportunity to offer something to new customers that you couldn't reach before. In this course we will lead you through the thinking, stepping up from our day to day operational work to looking at your business from a higher angle to understand, ‘What are the opportunities that I actually need to set my business up for?’.”

Cash flow during coronavirus

Raising the issue of managing cash flow during coronavirus, Philip King, Small Business Commissioner, suggested that prompt payments within the supply chain are key to both the recovery of small businesses and to cementing future relationships.

“I think we're going to see a temptation to hang onto cash for longer and we're currently working through a campaign of trying to make sure that doesn't happen by writing to numerous large businesses, encouraging them to do the right thing and so on.

“I think what we need to see at this time is businesses pulling together, and my hope is that prompt payment will be one of the elements of that that comes through. It's actually about more than just payment – it's about the relationship between businesses as they move forward.”

He added that the crisis has, in a lot of cases, brought about a positive and more compassionate change in terms of how big businesses view, and work with, SMEs.

“I think we’re seeing a shift in thinking in many big businesses from the transactional to the emotional. What for big business might be numbers on a spreadsheet, ticked or not ticked in terms of payment, for a tiny microbusiness that can well be the difference between putting food on the table or not.

“We’re seeing a shift from an era of confrontation to an era of collaboration”.

Thinking outside the box

Nick Lisher, Head of EMEA, Nextdoor, the neighbourhood hub, urged small businesses to get creative.

“My key message to anyone wondering just how they’re going to open up in the coming weeks is to really think creatively about the best value that you can drive for your customers during this unprecedented time.”

Tailoring small businesses to local needs is key to surviving this difficult period, he added – something that ‘Get Local’, Nextdoor’s new campaign in partnership with Barclays, will support.

‘Get Local’ will enable businesses who sign up to Nextdoor to add themselves to a new, dedicated coronavirus ‘Open for Business’ directory in their neighbourhood, allowing them to share information on opening hours, special offers and delivery hours in an easier and more effective way.

Lisher said: “I think all of those businesses that have thought, number one, ‘Okay how can I provide the most value to local customers given the challenges both that we're facing and they’re facing?’, and number two, ‘How can I get that message to as many people locally as possible?’. Those are the businesses that have been able to keep going through the period.”