In the fourth of a series of Facebook Live events, Ian Workman, Managing Director, Co-Head SME from the Barclays Business Banking team hosts a panel of experts discussing ways to get businesses back on their feet.
He spoke to Philip King, Small Business Commissioner, SBC, Nick Lisher, Head of EMEA at Nextdoor and Professor Christoph Loch, Director of the Cambridge Judge Business School.
Introducing the panellists
First up was Philip King, who explained how The Small Business Commissioner is an independent public body set up by Government offering a free service that helps small businesses with things like contracts and resolving late payments.
In terms of what he’s seeing in the world outside, “I think we're seeing a shift in thinking in many big businesses,” he said, “from the transactional to the emotional. What for a big business might be on a spreadsheet, ticked or not ticked in terms of payment, for a tiny micro-business can well be the difference between putting food on the table or not and we need to get to a point where businesses generally recognise that. And we're seeing a shift from an era of confrontation to an era of collaboration and I think that's really to be welcomed and is great to see.”
Nick Lisher was next, and he mentioned some of the ways Nextdoor, the neighbourhood hub, are helping local businesses.
When lockdown started, “people began to rely on local information more than they ever had, and so daily activity on our platform doubled,” he said.
One thing Nextdoor did to help was partner with Barclays to launch ‘Get Local’, to help small businesses reach their local neighbourhood for free.1 This partnership supports by allowing “Businesses to publish two ‘Business Posts’ for free each month2, which is really a local advertisement that gives you instant distribution to your neighbourhood, allowing you to share vital information such as new opening hours, delivery options and special offers. Compared to other social media platforms that require you to build up followers or likes in order to reach anyone, Nextdoor really offers this kind of instant and direct connection to thousands of verified neighbours in your local neighbourhood.”
Christoph Loch described how the Business School at the University of Cambridge is helping businesses and social enterprises innovate and help them grow. He spoke about the free new Back to Business Programme launching on business resilience with Barclays - designed to help SMEs hit by the Covid crisis find the opportunities to emerge from it stronger.
“For some businesses even now there's opportunities to look for something new,” he said.
“In this course,” he explains, “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?”
The Back to Business Programme is a free online toolkit that helps you assess the health of your business and identify how to sustain or grow it during a crisis. At the end of the course – which participants have two months to finish and takes around 15 hours – you’ll get a resilience plan for your business that you can continue to test and track over time. Throughout this time you’ll get the opportunity to bounce ideas off a range of Barclays specialists, so it really is a great opportunity to set yourself and your business up for the future.
The panel then answered some questions - for the full Q&A, follow the link at the foot of the page.
Do you think businesses will hold onto cash more, do you think there's more that big businesses could be doing in this space to support businesses as they get back up and running?
Philip King: 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…. I think what we need to see at this time is businesses pulling together, and my hope is that payment and prompt payment will be one of the elements of that that comes through but actually it's more than just about payment, it's around the relationship between businesses as they move forward.
Christoph Loch: What I see is that if a business is in danger of running out of cash in two months, that has implications for how they behave in terms of preserving cash flow. On the other hand, I certainly agree with Philip. When you do that, when you are stringing your suppliers on, you are damaging the long-term relationships. So there's a dilemma between short term survival and damaging long term relationships in order to rebuild your business in the future. Don't forget the long term as you are looking at survival in the short term.
'Is the Barclays Back to Business Programme virtual and open to the whole of the UK?' Do you have to come to Cambridge and do it manually?
Christoph Loch: No it's virtual, so it's self-paced learning, it's open to everybody in the UK. You can do this on your own time and there are weekly work packages with material and exercises where you can apply this to yourself. So you need to take activities in order to understand your customers, in order to look at yourselves from the outside, in order to use that creativity to reshape your business.
There's an offer available* on Nextdoor for Barclays customers at the moment until the end of July, is that right?
Nick Lisher: That's right. There are two Business Posts for free to all UK businesses2, and a free listing in our new, dedicated coronavirus 'Open for Business' directory. On top of that, we've offered Barclays customers who come through the Barclays secure site a free Local Deal3. This is essentially a special offer or a promotion to the local neighbourhood, that would normally cost, depending on how many people you were targeting, somewhere between twenty quid and a couple of hundred quid. We've offered that for free, one free deal, to all Barclays customers.
Back to Business programme: To find out more about and apply for the programme we’re offering in partnership with the Cambridge Judge Business School, click here.
This event: To watch this event in full, head to the Barclays Business Banking Facebook page.
Small Business Commissioner: To find out more click here.
Nextdoor: For more information on the Nextdoor offer, see our Barclays website.