How can SME’s survive the Covid-19 economic shutdown

Tech and job stress

Ever since the Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic shook the world, national governments have responded by temporary restricting the freedom of movement of their citizens, and shutting down pretty much all but essential businesses.

Aside from the health risk, the economic impact is just as profound, with many small to medium enterprises going bust, fast.

We spoke to successful British entrepreneur and renowned supplement expert Paul Jenkins MSc, founder of Paul gave us his personal insight on simple real-world steps that small business owners can follow to stimulate their business revenues and remain profitable during the Covid-19 economic shutdown.

Government funding for small business during the Coronavirus

The UK government are offering support for self-employed persons, however if you are a Director of a Limited company and pay yourself using dividends, you may not be eligible for any viable support.

According to the Financial support for businesses during coronavirus (COVID-19) guidelines, only salaried payments are eligible for funding. In fact the UK government have categorically stated that furlough grants are based on 80% of salaried payments and are capped at a maximum of £2500.00 per month, excluding dividend payments.

Funding comes with a few caveats;

  1. All grants are taxable.
  2. You cannot perform any work duties whatsoever on behalf of your company for the duration you are furloughed. (Apart from if you are a sole director you can still carry out your statutory duties, e.g. filing of year end accounts).
  3. If you decide to furlough you or your staff, this must be for a minimum of 3 weeks at a time.
  4. The scheme can be backdated no further than the 1st March 2020, and needs to be the actual date which the employee / Director were notified and ceased to work for the company. Currently the scheme is available until 31 May 2020.

3 simple steps business owners can follow to help stimulate their business revenues

Jenkins explained, “Unfortunately company directors appear to have been overlooked in this economic crisis. The majority of small to medium business owners are company directors and pay themselves according to the pay structure that government created, using dividends”.

The harsh reality of this economic crisis is that a substantial number of small and medium sized business owners are on their own, and they have to find a way to survive this time, Jenkins said.

Here are 3 simple steps that business owners take advantage of.

1.    Harness the power of a mailing list

Today just about every business irrespective of its size has some sort of website, whether it is a simple online presence, or a huge ecommerce site. Although generating website traffic has become a tall task, engaging buyers and prospective customers has never been easier. All you need is a subscription box on your website.

Jenkins explained, maintaining a customer mailing list should be a fundamental part of every business. There are lots of options for capturing and sending emails, at DNA Lean, we use Mailchimp, it’s one of many tools that are available and it allows you to engage your customers directly. With Mailchimp you get to look at statistics such as open rates, click through rates and a ton of other useful stuff. You can even use it to re-target customer groups.

The beauty of a mailing list is that you can interact with your target audience in many ways. First of all subscribers chose to opt in. This is huge because this means that anyone who subscribes is telling you that they are interested in your products or service. In essence, you are getting a direct line to your target audience for free, Jenkins told us.

Don’t just think in terms of sending product information, customers can soon get bored with that and if they want to look at your product or service details they should be able to find all they need on your website. Instead send them engaging and valuable information, such as engaging “how to” blog posts.

Of course it’s always good to send out exclusive offers and discounts, but don’t limit newsletters to these or product info, also send out information that adds value for free.

Publish informative and well-researched blog posts

No doubt you have heard this mantra before about publishing blogs on your website. According to WordPress 70 million new blogs are published every month. Which is why you shouldn’t just post for the sake of posting, this is bad advice. If you do, your content will inevitable pale into insignificance and get lost amidst the soup of 70 million other monthly blog posts that are published.

Instead, set a publishing schedule that allows for well-researched topics that are written to resonate with you target audience. It’s important here to research both topic (keyword) and the facts that you set out in your content by citing relevant and authoritative sources to ensure that your content is trustworthy.

Free services such as Google trends are great tools to help identify hot topics that your customers might find interesting. If you don’t do your research you could easily end up with a bunch of zombie pages that none of your customers are interested in reading, Jenkins said. The old adage of “quality over quantity” prevails when it comes to creating and posting blog content.

Ask for feedback from your customers

While optimising customer experience is nothing new, right now it is more important than ever to get feedback from your customers and use this information to optimise their online and shopping experience on your website.

Jenkins explained, in my experience not enough business collect feedback from their customers after they have checked out. Customising your successful payment pages to collect feedback is crucial to your success. Post payment is a magic window of opportunity where you can present your customer with the opportunity to send you their feedback.

Most customers who have gone through the checkout process are happy to spend 30 seconds giving you their feedback. However, you need to make data collection as easy as possible, your feedback page doesn’t need to be fancy, even a single text box that allows customers to comment on their shopping experience can suffice.

Be proactive with your customers and listen to their feedback, this way you can take their feedback and use it to increase conversions said Jenkins.


Whether you as a business owner are eligible for government funding or not, the pending Coronavirus shutdown stands to negatively affect the global economy, let alone national and local ones.

In this time, it is imperative that business owners take action and look to find advantageous that can be leveraged during the economic shutdown. While nations spend significantly more time at home, online user engagement is it an all time high and using these tips suggested in this article, can surely be leveraged for a better outcome.