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Nine resilience tips to help your business in challenging times

Disruptions, unexpected market changes, new legislation and emerging competitors can quickly impact a small business. If you’re thinking about starting a business or have just launched, it can pay to be flexible, agile, and resilient when faced with the unexpected.

Resilience ranges from actively taking steps and planning for different scenarios to adjusting your mindset and mentally digging deep when facing unexpected challenges.

Business plans may have to be reassessed, and ideas scaled-down, or new avenues explored which challenges may have opened up.

But how do you handle the dark clouds on the business horizon?

We’ve pulled together a list of our top nine resilience tips for small businesses and start-ups.


Want to learn more about managing and leading staff?

Discover more about managing people with our free Managing and managing people course opens in new window, with teaches you managerial effectiveness, the skills required and how to develop management skills.

As part of our Learn with Start Up Loans opens in new window partnership with The Open University, our online course is free to join, delivered by experts and includes a free statement of participation on completion.


Nine resilience tips for start-ups

1. Keep a positive mindset

As a new business owner, it can be challenging to have a positive mindset when faced with poor trading or unexpected marketing conditions.

Maintaining an upbeat attitude is vital for motivating your employees too.

Consider using mindfulness and meditation tools to help you stay focused – there are many wellbeing apps available such as Calm opens in new window and NHS-tested mental health and wellbeing apps opens in new window.


2. Tap into networking

In addition to being great for making contacts or finding new customers, networking can be a rich source of advice and support in tough times.

Sharing your concerns with other start-up owners who have similar experiences can be a valuable sounding board.

Other business owners can offer support and motivation to help you face your challenges – from practical advice to an opportunity to talk through your options and ideas.


3. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice

Launching a small business sometimes doesn’t follow a predictable trajectory.

Seeking advice from experienced professionals – such as online training, business coaches, and mentors – can strengthen your business knowledge and practices, boosting your resilience.

Start Up Loans provides 12 months of free access to a business mentor opens in new window to all loan recipients.


4. Keep a tight control on costs

Pay attention to finances – especially cash flow – rather than leaving it to your accountant.

Learn how to read and understand your financial performance and create a cash flow projection so you can spot any problems early on – our cash flow forecast template opens in new window can help.

Understanding your finances means you can make adjustments to keep costs low.


5. Practice flexibility

If your business is not delivering expected results, such as customer sales, think about different approaches.

Conduct small tests such as using different marketing strategies or developing new products.


6. Invest in marketing

Take the time to figure out what marketing methods work best for your business, such as email marketing or social media.

Measure performance against how much your business is spending.

If marketing campaigns aren’t delivering a return on investment (ROI), stop and try a different approaches such as through social media and local networking events, to ensure you continue to make your brand and business visible.


7. Pay attention to the competition

Knowing what competitors are doing can be a helpful tool in business resilience.

Not keeping tabs on competitors can mean they develop or launch new initiatives that put your business on the back foot.

Keep a watch on pricing strategies, marketing campaigns, and customer engagement channels such as a rival’s social media channels so you can quickly respond to a competitor’s move.


8. Build a cash safety net

Keep a cash reserve you can draw upon to carry your new business through tough times.

Aim for around three-months breakeven, but top this up when possible to keep cash reserves healthy.


9. Collect and analyse your data

Don’t underestimate the value of your business data, especially as a small or new business. It will provide you with valuable insights that you can use to build business resilience.

Create a data dashboard that regularly updates key drivers, such as average customer spend, marketing effectiveness, key expenditure, and productivity and use these to plot trends or model assumptions.

This will allow you to create different scenarios – such as a fall in customers or a less-effective marketing campaign – and model how it will impact your business performance.


Learn with Start Up Loans and help your business get off the ground.

Thinking of starting a business? Check out our free online courses in partnership with The Open University on sustainability in the workplace.

Our free Learn with Start Up Loans courses opens in new window include:

Plus free courses on climate and sustainability, teamwork, entrepreneurship, mental health and wellbeing.

Reference to any organisation, business and event on this page does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation from the British Business Bank or the UK Government. Whilst we make reasonable efforts to keep the information on this page up to date, we do not guarantee or warrant (implied or otherwise) that it is current, accurate or complete. The information is intended for general information purposes only and does not take into account your personal situation, nor does it constitute legal, financial, tax or other professional advice. You should always consider whether the information is applicable to your particular circumstances and, where appropriate, seek professional or specialist advice or support.

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