How you can save small businesses – the beating heart of Britain


The Daily Mail is today helping to launch a charity that will provide grants of £1,000 to small businesses hit hard by the pandemic.

As the country grapples with a second lockdown that could see thousands of small companies go to the wall, this newspaper is once again appealing to the generosity of the British public to help keep them afloat.

The Tide Charity, in partnership with small business bank Tide and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), is asking for donations to help fund as many grants as possible.

Help at hand: As Britain grapples with a second lockdown that could see thousands of small firms go to the wall, we are appealing to the generosity of the British public to keep them afloat

The bank and its partners and suppliers have already pledged £100,000 to the scheme.

Small business owners have this week told Money Mail that the cash will ‘help keep the lights on’ and help to ‘re-open doors’ when the pandemic is over. Applications for the grants, which are available to businesses with up to 50 employees, will open soon.

The exact start date will depend on how quickly the charity raises money, but it is hoped this will be within the next couple of weeks.

The initiative follows the scheme by Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT, the parent group of the Daily Mail, MailOnline and This is Money) that provided 1,600 small firms with free advertising worth £3,000 each — a total of £5 million.

Physio who needs to make his income stretch further 

Physiotherapist Rushabh Savla says revenue at his practice plummeted by as much as 40 per cent when the pandemic first hit – and he expects the winter lockdown to inflict further woe on the business.

His eight staff had to take wage cuts of 50 per cent because they were not eligible for furlough as locum workers.

Physiotherapist Rushabh Savla says revenue at his practice plummeted by as much as 40 per cent when the pandemic first hit

Physiotherapist Rushabh Savla says revenue at his practice plummeted by as much as 40 per cent when the pandemic first hit

Rushabh, 31, above, says he plans to apply for the £1,000 grant and use it to pay them back if successful.

R&D Physio has three clinics across London, but did not receive a Government grant because it leases its premises from another company.

During the first lockdown, it built revenue back by around 15 per cent by switching to virtual classes, but Rushabh says business has been ‘challenging’. 

He adds: ‘Week in, week out, we were just breaking even. We were down to the bare minimum, but the team has been amazing in the face of adversity.

‘This new lockdown won’t be good for business, but we’ve done it once so we can do it again.’

Mail readers have already demonstrated their generosity by helping to raise more than £11 million for our Mail Force charity, which has delivered millions of pieces of vital personal protective equipment (PPE) to NHS and care workers.

Our latest campaign once again hopes to harness community spirit and help the nation’s small firms, which employ 17 million people.

Indeed, research by Tide shows that more than three-quarters of small business owners believe helping other local companies would help their community as a whole.

As well as providing financial help, the charity will offer expert advice on how to adapt to the pandemic.

Bowled over by the pandemic 

Whitefield Bowling Club in Bury, Greater Manchester, is at risk of going under for the first time in its 138-year history due to the pandemic.

Director Vincent Crowe, 81, who has been a member for 50 years, says a £1,000 grant could help the club re-open its doors in future — particularly as it is unlikely to qualify for further Government support.

Whitefield Bowling Club director Vincent Crowe, 81, says a £1,000 grant could help the club re-open its doors in future

Whitefield Bowling Club director Vincent Crowe, 81, says a £1,000 grant could help the club re-open its doors in future

The club has not been able to host any games this season due to the virus, which has caused income to dry up completely.

It means vital repairs to the club’s leaking roof, estimated to cost £1,500, have been put on hold.

The club received a £10,000 grant from Bury council, but is already relying on donations from the community to stay afloat.

Vincent, pictured, says: ‘Anything that goes into the club would be deeply appreciated, both by ourselves and the community we serve.’

Next week, the Mail will publish tips from businesswoman Baroness Karren Brady, who is also backing the scheme.

She says: ‘The Tide Charity couldn’t be more needed than it is right now. I have been saddened to see the devastating impact the crisis has had on small businesses, so I’m delighted to be involved in such an important project.

‘I’m looking forward to engaging with small business owners and doing what I can to use my experience to give some guidance to help them find a way through the issues they are battling with.’

On November 17, Mail Business Editor Ruth Sunderland will host a live Q&A for small business owners with an expert panel of Baroness Brady, Tide chief executive Oliver Prill and a representative from the FSB.

Covid’s eaten into our profit 

Trade at Indian restaurant Babul’s has been at just 20 per cent of normal levels for the past few months — and lockdown is an existential threat.

But despite their troubles, brothers and owners Shahul and Zak Ahmed, have provided 7,000 free meals to key workers and vulnerable people locally. 

Trade at Indian restaurant Babul's, run by brothers and owners Shahul, right, and Zak Ahmed, left, has been at just 20 per cent of normal levels for the past few months

Trade at Indian restaurant Babul’s, run by brothers and owners Shahul, right, and Zak Ahmed, left, has been at just 20 per cent of normal levels for the past few months

The initiative began in March, when they offered £10 vouchers to every school child in Barnard Castle, Durham — or ‘where Dominic Cummings got his eyesight tested’, as Shahul puts it.

They then gave out free meals for the vulnerable and key workers, and provided free school meals during half-term. Shahul hopes the community will reply to save the small businesses it relies on. 

He adds: ‘We’ll definitely be applying [to the Tide Charity]. We’re struggling to pay the bills. 

‘We received a £10,000 grant from the council, but couldn’t get a bounce back loan because the bank ran out of funds.

‘£1,000 will help us pay the bills so we can keep the lights on.’

Mr Prill says: ‘We work with small businesses every day and are aware of the huge toll the coronavirus crisis has had on them.

‘We wanted to harness the brilliant community spirit we have seen as a result of the crisis and bring people together to support small businesses in need.

‘The Tide Charity will not be able to help all small businesses financially, so we are pleased to be able to offer help in the form of expert guidance to steer people through the challenges ahead. 

‘We are delighted to have Baroness Brady, the Daily Mail and the FSB on board to help us with this.’

The grants will be open to UK companies established before March 11 this year, and must be used for the current financial year.

Applications will be available on tidecharity.org.uk and will consist of a set of questions to confirm eligibility and a written submission detailing how the business has been hit by the pandemic and what it would use the grant for. 

The lockdown survival guide to staying afloat 

Federation of Small Businesses Chairman Mike Cherry gives his advice on how small businesses can adapt to the pandemic…  

Networking: There are lots of virtual networking opportunities, which can help you stay in touch with those facing similar challenges and hear advice from guest speakers.

Scenario plan: While it’s never been harder to plan ahead, it’s still good practice to have a business continuity plan and to update it, looking at how your business could cope with various scenarios.

Cash and access to finance: Consider your options for accessing additional finance if you need it, including alternative finance models and funding platforms. Also, keep up to date with Government or local authority support schemes in case you’re eligible for help.

Legal support: Make sure you have access to affordable legal advice and resources, including HR support and documents if you’re an employer.

Be adaptable: Many small businesses have been amazingly innovative during the crisis in changing how they operate, or the products or services they provide.

Consider whether, among all the tough challenges the pandemic has thrown up, there might also be opportunities.

Digital skills: From using online sales platforms to building your brand via social media, being digitally savvy could bring much-needed business opportunities your way.

Business support: If you’re not already a member of a reputable business support organisation, explore whether joining one could help you and keep your costs down.

FSB members, for example, are able to access legal support, finance options, networking events and a wealth of valuable online resources.

Health and wellbeing: Be mindful of your physical and mental health, and that of any employees you may have.

These are tough times, but factor in the importance of looking after yourself as well as your business.

Applicants should be the director or owner of the business. Donations can be made through the same website.

When applications open, there will be a cap on how many will be accepted, depending on the funds the charity has raised.

Once that cap has been reached, applications will close and the charity will aim to respond to submissions within 14 days. The scheme may reopen if more money is raised.

FSB chairman Mike Cherry says: ‘These are very difficult times for many small businesses and the self-employed, who are working hard to keep things going through the Covid crisis.

‘Many of them have suffered a devastating financial impact and desperately need support to help them survive, so they can continue to contribute to the economy and provide crucial jobs and services.

‘This new fund will give financial help to some of those most in need, and is an extremely welcome gesture.’

m.dilworth@dailymail.co.uk

Free ads gave us fantastic support 

More than a thousand small businesses have already benefited from £5 million worth of free advertising – thanks to a major DMGT initiative.

Small-business owners say the exposure has been ‘invaluable’ and have thanked the paper for its support.

In May – midway through the UK-wide lockdown – The Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT) invited small firms to apply for free advertising space in Britain’s best and most-read newspapers.

John Brooksbank's firm The Great Out-Tours runs outdoor events for primary school children and adults with physical disabilities, mental health conditions and dementia

John Brooksbank’s firm The Great Out-Tours runs outdoor events for primary school children and adults with physical disabilities, mental health conditions and dementia

It initially aimed to give 1,000 firms advertising worth £3,000, but ended up supporting 1,600 companies.

The fund was open to businesses that had been established for more than six months, employed fewer than 150 people, and had a turnover of below £6 million a year.

Successful applications received four print and two online adverts across six DMGT publications, including the Daily Mail, the Mail On Sunday, MailOnline, This is Money, The i newspaper and Metro.

Our staff also helped create the artwork for 95 per cent of the small businesses that took part. The first winners appeared from the beginning of June, with the final campaigns running this week.

John Brooksbank, 53, says the advertising he received for his outdoor activity business has given it ‘nationwide kudos’.

John, from Horam, East Sussex, says his firm The Great Out-Tours, which runs outdoor events for primary school children and adults with physical disabilities, mental health conditions and dementia, was ‘hit in the solar plexus’ by the pandemic.

He says the firm has seen revenue drop by 80 per cent because its award-winning programmes have been put on hold by social-distancing rules.

But John, pictured above, says our free advertising meant the launch of his firm’s digital activity packs was ‘the best we could have dreamed of’.

He says the help of our design team was ‘fantastic,’ and they created ‘a superb piece of artwork, which captured the essence of what we are’.

He adds: ‘It created a very big spike of interest and it continues to do so.

‘We got a 20 per cent increase in social media interactions. The extra exposure has been invaluable.

‘I keep in touch with my contacts at the Mail.

‘The support has been absolutely fantastic.

‘The fact that we were chosen in that dark time – I’ll never forget it.’

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