This disruption is not just about business, it’s about lives. We wanted to support the local SME business community as well as our clients because we think it’s important that the local ecosystem is maintained.
We made sure that SME owners got a guiding hand and practical help relevant to them to quickly interpret the government announcements, so they could take actions to protect their businesses, their employees and their families during the coronavirus crisis. There’s more on what we did here. We didn’t want to see any business, client or not, fail for want of a bit of help and advice. We still don’t.
Here are the stories of six of those businesses we helped:
A local client has 3 leisure businesses established in 2010 with a total turnover of £4m, operating across the UK. Because each business operated in a different season, (summer or winter), they were looking at a year of no income and all were facing liquidation. They needed help to see what their options were. The owner was facing losing 10 years hard work and was despondent. Whilst he would have accepted liquidating the businesses, he needed an alternative to salvage at least something.
How we helped
We discussed liquidation vs cocooning and decided on temporary cocooning. One business was pivoted to a different seasonal activity starting July 2020. We helped with the application for Business Bounce Back loans and helped them with discretionary grants, saving them from going bust.
All the businesses now have an income stream, albeit much reduced. The owner now has control of his business and doesn’t feel helpless. All three businesses have Bounce Back Loans and two have obtained discretionary grants. Due to a review of their business plans, a change of offer and some consolidation of activity, two of the businesses now have some resilience to another lockdown.
How he felt
He was much more positive once he had the option of changing the model and starting a new activity. He has renewed energy and enthusiasm and now has other ideas in the pipeline, which have started to bear fruit – such that enough income is coming in to keep the businesses afloat.
Customer engagement consultancy
A 3-year-old consultancy in Bournemouth which turns over £1.2m and helps large corporations engage better with customers was losing money in their US operation due to poorer US government support. The owner felt that all his plans for the next few years and all the hard work to get to this point had been in vain. He did not feel he was a good partner and was also under threat of being denied access to his children. He was depressed and had a week when he was very negative and closed off.
How we helped
After discussion, he decided to stop direct US sales, change to an online model and accelerate the development of an existing app. We had discovered which application details the banks really wanted for CBILS, which was different from the normal business plan and helped the client apply. We also helped him realise that all was not lost and good can come out of a bad situation.
He is currently well into the app development, and CBILS or not, has a plan to get through the rest of the year. Customers have started to come back, so whilst it will be tight, his business survival and his future are much more assured.
How he felt
The business owner went from a state of depression to being more optimistic as he moves forward with the new business model. The key result is that CBILIS money or not, his attitude went back to what it was before lockdown and his natural enthusiasm and energy will get him through.
A 10-year-old firm of architects in Bournemouth turning over £500k had wage costs that were outstripping their reduced sales. This client had taken a good deal of trouble to build his team and culture but was now anticipating having to make redundancies and build back up again when the situation eased. He was exasperated that all his good work had come to nothing.
How we helped
We discussed at length how their projects needed to be staffed, and we developed a flexible furlough model to allow the right people to be working at the right times on the projects.
The wage costs have been brought back into line with sales, and the furlough model we suggested is allowing project continuity so that invoicing is on time. This client was relieved that he could keep his team together after all. His hard work had not gone to waste, and customers were not impacted. In fact, he has now won a number of new projects, and is looking to recruit.
A construction company, 30 years in Bournemouth, turning over £2m had a big drop in sales due to the RNLI, a major customer ceasing orders and a local luxury yacht builder delaying payment. These 3 directors had essentially given up and expected the worst. They were downhearted and had lost all hope, at their late ages, of recovery and saw their retirement plans disappearing.
How we helped
After reassuring them that liquidation was not necessary, we helped them get a CBILS loan to cover the debtor lag and helped them pivot to more online sales of one of their product ranges.
They are much more positive. Sales of the online product have increased by 25% and, because of the CBILS loan easing cashflow, they have felt able to quote for and have won over £1m in new contracts.
What they said
The directors were palpably relieved and one commented: “It was good to talk last Thursday and thanks for the ‘pep talk’ – my level of positivity and mental well-being increased considerably. Thank you for your continued support and advice, and the nuggets that get me through!”
A beauticians in Hampshire established in 2015 and turning over £300k faced liquidation due to inability to trade during the lockdown. This client was depressed, tearful and upset, as she faced losing 5 years hard work and having to pay for the remainder of her lease with no income. She thought she was going to have to close immediately and make everyone redundant.
How we helped
We listened to her worries about the company folding and reassured her that cocooning was an option, and she could sell stock online to pay creditors. We made furlough claims and advised her on landlord and creditor negotiations. We amended her strategy and assured her that it was still valid.
They have now re-opened, as costs had been minimised and were balanced by income from online sales, so she was able to re-start without a total loss of business. The owner’s original plan for the next 5 years to retirement is still valid and 5 jobs have been saved.
How she felt
This client has a more positive outlook. She stopped despairing and recognised that she still had some control and could take positive actions instead of giving up. “…an absolute lifeline during lockdown guiding me through such a stressful time with patience and understanding.”
A 2-year-old fast-growing paddleboard retailer in Christchurch faced supply chain problems from China and could not meet customer demand. This entrepreneur was frustrated that he could not fulfil precious new orders and that he wouldn’t generate enough money to finance his new product.
How we helped
We conducted a full strategy exercise over 2 days. We found a way to resolve his lower price range supply chain problem from China by suggesting that he purchased higher value items, sells them and buys back used boards in part-exchange to sell at the lower price point.
Sales have trebled from last year with strong appetite from customers for the part exchange option. He was delighted that he could press on, safe in the knowledge that he could fulfil demand and still launch the new product.
What he said
He emailed us to say: “We talked it through and the next day my first action paid for itself!”