Former Dragon’s Den reveals top tips for businesses after pandemic – Piers Linney

AS the nation gets vaccinated in the fight against Covid, the 5.94 million small businesses in the UK are only just starting their battle as crucial financial lifelines are to be withdrawn by Government.

Piers Linney is a former Dragon’s Den, serial entrepreneur and investor.

But while the end of the furlough scheme is going to be one of the toughest hurdles that businesses will need to jump through this year, there’s a whole host of proactive steps that can be taken now which will be of greater significance on the path to getting your business fighting fit. 

Innovations are often born out of a recession. Those that buckle down and exercise an entrepreneurial mindset in an economic downturn, viewing it as an opportunity and not a setback, will be the ones to defy the odds and thrive.

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With that in mind, here are some top tips for ensuring that no viable business is left staring down the barrel of collapse:

How can firms in the North bounce back from the Covid pandemic?

Review the market: If one thing is for certain, it’s that the way we do business has changed forever. It’s important to refresh long held expectations or preconceptions on your customer base so that you are not lagging behind your competitors. This will help to hone your offering to the market and your collective objective as a business.

Reduce cash flows: Cash is king. The potential of your business will mean nothing if you haven’t got your cash flow in order. It is absolutely mission-critical to analyse every cost line meticulously. Whilst this may not be the most stimulating of tasks, the savings certainly will be. Go through everything with a fine-toothed comb.

Renegotiate: From scanning through accounts, to conducting extensive performance reviews, it is time for SMEs to join big corporations in asking themselves “are we really getting the best deal?” Be ruthless about it – and explore other supplier options if they won’t budge. Keep your business agile as it is the fixed costs that will be your downfall if a crisis strikes.

Augment your employees time: SMEs need to ruthlessly reduce time spent on activities that could be automated by the right software or outsourced. See if mundane and time-consuming finance or HR processes can be streamlined, freeing up valuable human time for more worthy tasks which bring greater employee satisfaction.

How can Yorkshire firms work together to bounce back from the Covid pandemic?

Take the lead: When it comes to tough choices such as downsizing your team, you must share the pain. Sell the flash car, and show that you care. It’s shocking how many CEOs and business leaders forget this, and it can be damaging for your reputation and your team’s motivation.

It’s no longer acceptable to not ‘understand’ technology: A lack of innovation in our small businesses hampering productivity and reducing employment and profitability – just 14 per cent of SMEs have a website. Usually it is either fear, uncertainty or doubt that is the crux of the lack of technological adoption. This is the time to seek the right access to the right content. Apathy will get you nowhere.

Digital first: A tech-enabled recovery will be front and centre of the economic recovery. Technology can help streamline your finances, hire the best talent and enhance the customer experience. It is imperative to get to grips with the tech and tools that can augment small business owners to do what they do best – run a business.

Take a look in the mirror: Do you have the skill and the confidence to traverse the choppier waters that a recession can bring? If not, can you fill those skills gaps and seek support from your team or an external resource?

Always keep one eye on the time when you may decide to step away from your business. If you have successfully integrated enterprise technology into your business and your accounts are in consistently good health you will stand in better stead for when you may decide to sell your business  

Growth should not be London-centric. There’s a lot of rhetoric around ‘Northern Powerhouse’ and ‘levelling up’, but often limited support to truly nurture growth across all regions of the UK.

Smaller businesses make up over 99 per cent of the northern business cohort, which is why it is so important to take stock and take on tailored business advice as the wheels of the economy start to turn again.

The past 18 months have 
taken a huge toll on all of us, 
and the outlook is still uncertain. But now is the time to look ahead.

Britain is an economy of small and micro businesses and it’s about time we gave them the recognition, support and counsel they need to flourish. 

Piers Linney is a former Dragon’s Den, serial entrepreneur and investor. For more tips visit

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