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East Midlands Chamber News

Derby accountancy firm predicting positive outcome for UK businesses post-pandemic – if they can continue to show diversity

Businesses can thrive post-pandemic if they continue to diversify, says a top Derby accountancy firm as England begins Step Two of its roadmap to ease lockdown restrictions.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed that, from April 12, non-essential retail, gyms, hairdressers, spas, theme parks and zoos can reopen. Restaurants and pubs can also serve outdoors.

Beverley Wakefield, of Duffield Road-based Vibrant Accountancy, says that we should continue to support local and that, if these businesses which have adapted constantly throughout the last 12 months can continue to offer new things, then they will blossom.

And Beverley, who set up Vibrant Accountancy with business partner Ian Ball just four months before the first coronavirus lockdown, says that those start-ups created during the pandemic can now push on and grow.

“I’m very stoic and think that we can all take this opportunity and challenge post-covid times,” said Beverley.

“We all need to continue to support local and build on our community – but not close the door to global, as there are, of course, more opportunities out there and with technology being so advanced these days, something which we’ve all adapted to using on a regular basis over lockdown, it’s so easy to create new relationships with people around the world.

“There have been some great examples, too, of businesses altering and doing things that their customers want – some online experiences supported by physical presence, a mix of services and new products. Let’s continue to challenge and change and keep that human approach which has been so warming to see during the pandemic.”

The proportion of people in the UK travelling to work has increased to 53 per cent since the end of March, according to the Office for National Statistics.

And Beverley believes that, once all restrictions on travel in the UK are lifted, we will see more companies offering flexible working for their employees.

“At Vibrant, we have altered significantly,” she said, “whilst we have worked from the office on occasions in between the three national lockdowns – and worked on a rota basis, restricting the amount of people in the office – it will be nice to get all of us in the same room together.

“We have recruited, too, during the pandemic and there hasn’t yet been a time when all of us are in the office together. That’s been the case for others, too.

“There has to be an element of trust to ensure that flexible working is beneficial for everyone and I believe that having a base is still fundamentally important.”

Over the past 12 months Beverley has spent many a night trying to dissect the latest Government legislation, trying to simplify furlough for her clients and how the guidance from Number 10 will affect businesses.

She said: “While I appreciate that there have been excluded communities, the amount of announcements made by Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been relentless; I must admit at being both excited and also dreading another press conference where he would announce the latest support, guidance and new legislation – and then trying to get to the bottom of what these announcements would mean for business owners.

“Furlough will be here until September and we still have time to plan and to utilise this to retain those key members of staff as we will hopefully see a hive of activity across the summer months as the Government’s road map – hopefully – sees us moving to pre-Covid times.

“It’s important that business owners budget and plan both personally and for their business; they need to review all their costs and identify whether they are needed or not and whether they’re getting the right return on investment.

“It is vital to ensure that a business has different saving pots, so that they can make key decisions as to whether investment in staff and kit is possible and making more informed decisions. Know the ‘pinch points’, when you need funding and when you need to drive more revenue to create yourself new sales targets.

“I cannot stress how fundamental it is to get it all plotted out. The grants that have been received as a lifeline are also taxable, so remember to plot in when your corporation tax will be payable. Also factor in when you need to pay your ongoing VAT, plus anything else that you have deferred to pay at a later date.

“Businesses don’t tend to fail on the way into a recession; they fail on the way out and there has been a lot of support out there to nurture and ensure that businesses can remain open.

“We need to ensure that we’re able to make the most of this and the new road map to ensure that our businesses are starting on the front foot – cash rich businesses do not fail. Businesses with incredible sales can fail, just because they are cash starved.

“On the contrary, businesses that are struggling but have investors who will support them can continue. It’s all about the cash – cash is King!”