What a difference a few months makes! At the time of writing, the UK is entering its 12th week of lockdown. Life as we know it has been upended and streets, bars and restaurants have been deserted. We spend our days sheltered in our homes watching and hoping that our sacrifice (if you can call it that) will help bring that rate down so that we can all take our first steps back into some sort of normality.

It’s unlike anything we’ve seen since the war and here at Manchester Young Professionals, we’re in awe of how everyone in the UK is dealing with all this – in particular, the small businesses that are finding new and inventive ways of offering their products and services. So in this blog, we thought we’d talk you through Coronavirus, the economic impact, how Manchester is getting through it and finally if you’re a small business owner who is anxious and struggling with your mental health we’ve got an entire section dedicated to helping you in this uncertain time.

Since 2013, we’ve been helping the great young professionals of Manchester connect and create a community where ideas and creativity are shared. Get in touch with us today, we’re always on the lookout for events, ideas and spaces to become part of our network, check out what we’ve got in store.

how small businesses are coping in lockdown

The Economic Impact Of COVID And Lockdown

With lockdown still ongoing, it’s clear that the economic kickback from it is going to be sizable. Around 79% of services reported a fall in business and UK GDP could fall at a quarterly rate of 7% or more if current rules stay in place. UK car sales have plunged to a level not seen since 1946, and when the new loan scheme for small business was set up, banks reported getting 100,000 applications in a single day.

For the SME and Food & Drink sector, there have been business rates holidays for all hospitality businesses, a business interruption loan scheme is offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs and small business grant funding of up to £10,000 in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief.

As well as those figures, the human side to the economic impact is also worth keeping in mind. Millions of people have been furloughed and many more are left with a great deal of uncertainty about what the future holds. In Manchester, there is a thriving small business sector that has felt the effects of lockdown particularly keenly, including many of our own members at MYP.

What Small Businesses In Manchester Are Offering During The Lockdown And How They Are Coping

Manchester has seen devastating effects as a result of lockdown. In part because the economy of the city relies heavily on busy bars and restaurants, a bustling office market, universities attracting people from around the world and two football teams. As with everything, where there is darkness there is hope and Manchester has that in abundance. We thought we’d highlight how small businesses in Manchester are adapting and in some cases thriving in lockdown.

There is plenty of fantastic creative business in Manchester, from marketing firms, digital agencies and creative companies that have struggled in lockdown. Thankfully, the Greater Connected programme has returned to help digital, creative and tech businesses navigate their company through the coronavirus. They help them define plans, create objectives and gain a greater understanding of fundamentals that will help them in business. Companies can get advice from people who are experts in helping guide companies through large crises like this and the 2008 financial crisis.

Strive and Thrive workshops are also available which look to help small and medium-sized businesses deal with both the immediate dangers of lockdown and the long-term approach. The free to attend workshops covered a huge range of topics like strategy, finance, marketing strategy, digital marketing, leadership through uncertain times and supply chains. Other issues that will be discussed include fundraising, staff engagement, health and well-being and how to effectively use digital marketing tools.

So, there is plenty out there to support SMEs in the Manchester area but what are our beloved bars, restaurants and coffee shops doing?

First off, Shindigger Brewery is operating a same-day delivery service on all their tasty beers. Simply head to their website, select your beverages and if you live in Manchester, Liverpool or The Wirral address you can expect same-day delivery within three hours! The caffeine connoisseurs over at Just Between Friends have turned their charming little coffee shop into a fantastic to-go store. Their bay windows have been opened up and customers can queue up, order their favourite drinks and collect them by the front door. Think of it like a drive-thru for coffee except well, it’s more of a walk-thru. If you’re a cheesy kind of person and having been craving melted cheddar between two toasty pieces of bread then Northern Soul Grilled Cheese is the one for you. Order one of their ‘Grill It Yourself’ packs and get everything you could ever need to create the perfect grilled cheese sandwich! The famous beer house Albert Schloss has recently opened up a pop-up charity shop, selling some of their most popular beers and firing up the in-house bakery so you can enjoy some sweet treats. All proceeds from the pop-up shop have gone to Eat Well MCR and the NHS.

Now, while going to an escape room might seem like a rather dark joke at the minute given that we’re all stuck inside the same 4 walls. If you are in need of a virtual escape then Breakout Manchester is hosting online escape rooms that you and your friends can link up online and complete together. If tasting menus are more your thing and you fancy bringing the culinary experience to your own kitchen then Six By Nico have developed a variety of ‘Home By Nico’ 4-course menu’s for you to enjoy with a loved one.

Struggling With Your Mental Health As A Business Owner? Here Are Some Things That Can Help

Being a business owner right now is stressful, to say the least. Uncertainty and a lack of foresight have left many people wondering what the future holds for their small business. This can cause a real strain on your mental health. Here at Manchester Young Professionals, we’re committed to creating a community that takes mental health seriously and looks for ways to tackle it in a way that is manageable and achieves results in a reasonable timeframe. So, we thought we’d outline a few things you can do to feel better in yourself and highlight some resources that you can use to improve your mental health.

4 Ways You Can Immediately Alter Your Mental Wellbeing

  1. Take a walk – Zeroing in on one thing that is causing your anxious state can keep you locked into it for hours and hours without any hope of actually solving it. Taking a walk and/or removing yourself from the place where that anxiety is occurring can have a real positive effect on you. In particular, your outlook can broaden and change once you step outside and breathe that fresh air in.
  2. Exercise regularly – Now, don’t take this as a sign you need to go out and spend a fortune on dumbbells, but regular exercise, something to get your heart pumping, is such an effective way of recontextualising your current mental state. Find heavy items and create a workout plan, run on the streets, do an online class. Whatever you do, you’ll feel that priceless endorphin rush after that is extremely effective.
  3. Write down your anxieties or say them out loud to yourself – Our brain is brilliant but sometimes it can be our own worst enemy. Thoughts and worries about your business build up to a point that they’re all you think about. Opting to write them down or say them out loud is about dispelling them entirely, it’s about putting them down somewhere so you can ease your burden.
  4. Talk to someone from a mental health charity like Mind Manchester – Teams like Mind and others like Samaritans are operating round the clock at this difficult time to help support the people of Manchester through this bleak period. Talking to someone that you’ve never met before allows you to forget about the idea they have preconceived ideas about you – they are there simply to listen. Detailing your thoughts, problems and feelings are like turning a pressure valve, it’s a vital part of improving your mental state.

About Manchester Young Professionals

For professionals in their 20s and 30s living in Manchester life can be a whirlwind. We set up MYP in 2013 to create an inclusive and accessible network for people with similar interests. We work alongside local partners and community professionals to host networking events that are informative, actually fun (not forced) and help you connect with people that are in similar situations as yourself. In this dark time, knowing there are others out there is a real comfort and here at MYP, we want to try and get the “You’re not alone” message out there.

Get In Touch

Take a look at our events page to see what events we have coming up in the coming weeks – all from home for the foreseeable, of course!. We’d love to have you as part of our network so be sure to get in touch with us, tell us a bit about yourself and let’s do what we all do best – network!