The global slowdown caused by the spread of COVID-19 is resulting in unprecedented levels of uncertainty amongst the business community. Funding rounds have been postponed, businesses are reporting an increase in missed invoice payments, and staff are adjusting to a new life of remote working.

This article is about the tools available to help your business get through this difficult period and hopefully emerge stronger on the other side.

Government Aid

There are now numerous support packages available to UK businesses to help them through the downturn, including employee salary support, tax holidays and business loans. The government has a questionnaire allowing you to find out which are available to you. You can find that here.

Short-term Lending

There’s no clear timeline for when the situation will improve, so it may be worth considering a capital injection into your business. Even if your position is secure now, the duration of this crisis could result in that situation worsening. Putting together a contingency lending plan will help to calm nerves and reduce uncertainty should you need a Plan B. Iwoca and Funding Circle are the market leaders in the short-term business lending space.

Advanced R&D Credit Funding

Many innovative businesses will be familiar with the UK Government’s R&D tax credit, but may not be aware of how this credit could help during this crisis. There are two options for bringing forward the cash benefit from this credit to the near term if it’s not due now. Some R&D claims advisors offer to lend against your future R&D credit, ensuring you can access the funds even before you’ve reached your financial year-end.

At EmpowerRD, we are offering help to bring forward your financial year-end so that you can submit your claim within 2-3 weeks even if it was due later in the year. EmpowerRD Now also allows you to also receive the tax credit as soon as the claim is submitted, so you could receive your R&D tax credit within 2-3 weeks even if it was due later in the year.

Securing Invoice Payments

Uncertainty in global supply chains means that many businesses are seeing clients miss their invoice payments. There are two services out there that can help you ensure you invoices are paid on time. Firstly, there’s Chaser, which can automate the process of notifying clients about their upcoming or missed payments. Secondly, there’s GoCardless which allows you to set up direct debit mandates against your invoices when they’re issued. This means that you can pull the funds at the moment the invoice payment is due. This may seem like an extreme measure, but in the current climate, it might make a significant difference to your bottom line.

Co-Ordinating Internally

As your team begins a period of remote working that they may not have experienced before, you’ll need to provide them with the right tools to ensure they can continue delivering great work. Development teams often have effective tools to manage their tasks and backlog like Jira, however, your commercial teams may have relied on a lot more face-to-face coordination that’s simply no longer available.

Task sharing apps like Asana might be useful, or you may wish to institute an increased frequency of group video meetings to ensure your team remains co-ordinated throughout the day. Using Zoom or other video software can help ensure team togetherness.

Mental Health

Remote working can have productivity and flexibility benefits, but it can also lead to isolation and even depression amongst team members. As many team members might be unused to home-working and also have unsuitable home-working environments, it’s now more important than ever to provide mental health support to them.

Workplace mental health apps like Wellspace and UnMind can help you keep track of your team’s mental health. Additionally, this might be the right opportunity to recommend traditional mindfulness apps like HeadSpace and Calm, both of which have business packages.