Beyond government help: Business to business support during coronavirus
Businesses are stepping up to help each other through the coronavirus pandemic. To save you time and legwork, we’ve gathered all the offers and support we could find, including accounting, cybersecurity, sales, marketing and PR.
We took these from several sources, including SmallBusiness.co.uk, Enterprise Nation and the Federation of Small Businesses. If you’ve found any other examples of great business-to-business support, let us know.
And if you haven’t checked out the government’s business support package recently, it’s worth taking another look. Here’s a new support finder tool to help you navigate.
Accounting and bookkeeping
Coconut has launched a free-to-use web tool to help the self-employed calculate self-assessment tax returns on 6 April.
The tool reduces the time it takes to create a self-assessment by up to 80 per cent and was set up to ease the burden on the millions of people who find that they suddenly need to submit their self-assessment early before they can access the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme.
Users will be able to connect their existing bank account from 20 major UK banks and within minutes, 24 months of up to date transaction data will be analysed and categorised for tax, giving a clear and simple overview of total income and total allowable expenses, ready to submit to HMRC.
CountingUp, a banking and accounting app, has launched a free coronavirus grant calculator for sole traders.
The calculator helps self-employed sole traders see what grant they are likely to be eligible for under the Self-Employment Support Scheme. They can also calculate lost earnings.
The calculator takes the three most recent years of profit for a sole trader, calculates the average profit, limits to 80 per cent and then determines if the grant is within the government’s monthly cap of £2,500.
Expense management solutions company Expend is offering full access to its platform for free, for up to 20 users, until September 2020. The usual price is £6.99 per month per user. Features include automatic invoice capture and click free integration with QuickBooks and Xero.
Scottish cash flow startup Float is offering an extended trial until June for small businesses affected by coronavirus. Its software, designed to help small businesses using Xero, Quickbooks Online or FreeAgent, helps SMEs better understand cash flow positions.
Cloud accounting software provider FreeAgent has launched a free-to-use new feature, Radar, designed to boost small business productivity by reducing time spent on admin.
Created as a central hub for day-to-day financial management, Radar will collate key information and tasks that small business owners need to address in their accounts each day – including explaining outstanding bank transactions and reconnecting Open Banking feeds.
Trintech is making its Adra Task Manager software free of charge for six months to help finance teams of mid-sized businesses keep accounts on track while teams are working remotely.
Cyber security experts, ACA Compliance Group, is offering free online cyber awareness training to individuals and firms with up to 100 employees, waiving fees until 30 June.
For three months, businesses and individuals working from home can access CybSafe’s “Remote Working Pack”, which includes three modules designed to keep people safe from harm whilst working from home.
Each module takes up to ten minutes, so the remote working bundle can be completed during a lunch break.
NatWest’s free standalone digital business account, Mettle, announced that it is offering cloud accounting software FreeAgent free of charge to freelancers, sole traders and smaller businesses.
Businesses which sign up to link Mettle and FreeAgent accounts will save at least £150 a year – the minimum cost of an annual FreeAgent subscription.
A summary of the Barclay’s business customer support, which includes free everyday banking and overdrafts to 650,000 small businesses is available to view on its website.
HSBC has introduced a wide range of measures to help support its business customers, including:
- Allocating £5bn to help businesses that need support
- Asking relationship managers to proactively contact customers to see what help their businesses need
- Launching a helpline to support any customer queries (08000 121 614, open 9am-5pm Monday to Friday)
Since the start of the crisis, Lloyds has provided 10,000 overdraft extensions worth £100m, in addition to pre-existing undrawn facilities of £3bn.
Lloyds has also approved 20,000 capital repayment holidays to help businesses with working capital challenges and reduce their outgoings.
You can find the latest information on these measures on its website.
RBS owned NatWest has pledged £5bn in working capital to support SMEs during the coronavirus crisis.
The bank has also offered loan repayment holidays and temporary emergency loans with no fees.
Cloud-based HCM platform Cornerstone OnDemand has launched a free online learning platform, Cornerstone Cares, in response to the coronavirus pandemic. This includes learning courses on stress management and working from home.
Home networking solution Ericom is offering free 60-day licences for its Ericom AccessNow and Ericom Connect remote access services, covering the first 100 users of your small business. The software makes it easy to access office desktops, software and networks when working from home on any Mac, PC or tablet using any standard web browser.
AI-powered receptionist service Moneypenny is offering its digital switchboard service for free to help businesses get through the coronavirus pandemic. Digital Switchboard uses AI voice technology that answers high volumes of calls and fields them to the right people in your company without the need for a receptionist.
Health and safety technology company SafetyCulture has made its iAuditor product freely available to all UK businesses during the coronavirus crisis. The app and digital platform help business leaders and HR teams manage the administrative and compliance challenges of having a suddenly remote workforce. iAuditor allows staff to complete their own home office inspections in minutes. Employees simply need to download the app through the iPhone App Store or Google Play store.
Business performance consultancy Gallop has created a series of webinars available for free. These provide advice on coping with coronavirus, including guides for leaders, managing remote employees and keeping worker wellbeing high.
Sales, marketing and PR
Adzooma, a social media marketing platform, has gone free, offering full free access until 1 June.
Anyone who is using Google, Facebook, or Microsoft ads to promote their business or services will be able to benefit from the time and cost efficiencies which Adzooma offers at no cost. This includes all existing clients, whose billing will be suspended during this time.
Awin is waiving monthly fees for its affiliate programme for startups – Awin Access – for the first three months for businesses looking to launch.
Awin Access opens up affiliate marketing to emerging digital businesses. With no setup costs or lengthy contract terms, Awin Access removes barriers traditionally preventing SMEs and small businesses from affiliate marketing.
Artificial intelligence lab EBI.AI is offering its AI-powered customer service chatbot for free to small businesses for four months. The CoronaBot is designed to help companies manage the increased and fluctuating number of customer calls caused by the current emergency.
CoronaBot is pre-trained to answer the most commonly asked questions being asked to take pressure off companies with growing contact volumes and shrinking customer service teams such as, “Are you operating normally?”, “Do you provide a delivery service?”, “Is there a click and collect service?”, “Is it safe to get products delivered?” and “How do I contact you?”.
Website builder GoDaddy is providing free access to its email marketing tools to help small business owners keep employees and customers informed.
The platform has also launched the #OpenWeStand microsite to help small business owners connect and find resources during this very difficult time. The site is made up of a community forum, articles, videos and examples of entrepreneurs adapting their businesses to stay open.
Twitter management tool Hootsuite is offering free access to its Hootsuite Professional Plan for small businesses impacted by the coronavirus crisis.
Businesses can use Hootsuite for free to engage with customers, create content, manage crisis communications and access a library of social media courses free of charge.
Image library Shutterstock has created a resource hub with creative assets to connect with customers. The hub includes free images, videos and music for those who might be expanding their business online, as well as free virtual background packs to make your home office look professional.
Stampede, a startup offering digital growth services for the hospitality sector, has launched a free managed gift-card service for businesses impacted by coronavirus to help recover lost income quickly and create a continuous new revenue stream.
Stampede gift cards is a fully managed service, which means that a traditional pub or small local café with no ecommerce functionality can launch a website, create and issue gift cards to their customer database and start accepting payments immediately.
Cisco have added additional features to its Webex software and offered free 90-day licenses to businesses which are not currently Webex customers.
Genesys, a contact centre services business, is offering free access of its product called Genesys Cloud. It’ll allow you to give call centre functionality to your remote working staff.
Microsoft have built a new free app, called Power Apps, aimed at helping staff to share, co-work and communicate quicker and more easily.
To help support businesses during the coronavirus pandemic, SEOTesting.com will be free for all to use for a minimum of three months, with users able to add as many sites as they like.
Skrill, an online payments company, is offering its wallet and Quick Checkout service free of charge to the many small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) around the world which are providing products or services supporting communities during the coronavirus outbreak.
The move, which will be in effect until at least September 30, 2020, will particularly support small businesses which have had to digitise for the first time at speed.
Sidetrade is opening its accounts receivable platform for free to SMEs. Driven by machine-learning algorithms, CashControl has unique features, such as unlimited digital dunning letters, and automatic installment payment scheduling for difficult cases.
Workforce management company Talon has created a new initiative to support organisations that are suffering: The Rehire Project.
This new online platform is a communication tool enabling organisations to update the staff that have had to be furloughed or laid off with news posts and status updates on company progress and rehiring prospects during this time.
It also delivers automated check-ins for the company to monitor availability and commence rehiring instantly when business picks up.
The Rehire Project is free for small businesses, charities and the public sector, with larger organisations paying a nominal fee to help support the service for all users. Any profit made during the crisis will be donated to the NHS Charities COVID-19 Urgent Appeal and the World Health Organisation.
Freelance career platform UnderPinned will offer its services for free until September to help ease financial pressures facing millions of freelancers as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
The offer will give new and existing members full access to UnderPinned’s Virtual Office platform and every feature in the essential plan – offering a saving of £54. This includes everything from a portfolio and proposal builder to project management tools and an automated invoice system. Members will also be offered a coronavirus special resource, outlining available support and providing advice on how to diversify and improve revenue streams.
Zoho Corporation, a business software apps provider, has launched its Small Business Emergency Subscription Assistance Program (ESAP) to help small business during the coronavirus pandemic.
Zoho is waiving the cost of every single application used by up to 20,000 qualifying paying customers with 25 employees or less for up to three months.
All major broadband providers have agreed with the government to remove all data allowance caps on all current fixed broadband services. These include:
- Virgin Media
Both tools can be used to manage surges in customer queries via digital channels as businesses move completely online and help with the switch to remote work.
US company Numa is offering its business messaging platform for free for two months to companies impacted by the pandemic.
Leveraging its AI-enabled business messaging platform, the company is offering 24/7 text answering and virtual receptionist services to small businesses impacted by the pandemic, even if the business is temporarily closed, changing hours, or offering takeaway or delivery services.
Vodafone is offering 30-days free access to unlimited mobile data for 500,000 pay-monthly customers, including small businesses, on a first-come, first-served basis. This offer will be extended to pay monthly customers who are registered as working for the NHS.
Small businesses not already on unlimited data plans can access the offer through Vodafone’s VeryMe rewards scheme available through the My Vodafone app.
In addition, Vodafone will be upgrading pay-monthly customers flagged as vulnerable in its systems to this 30-day unlimited data offer for free. Vulnerable customers eligible for this upgrade will receive a text informing them.
Deliveroo has introduced a new daily payment service to boost cash for its restaurant partners. Restaurants are now be able to receive money made from deliveries within a day, instantly improving the cash flow of thousands of restaurants across the UK.
This new service is available to restaurants completely free of charge, with Deliveroo covering the increased banking charges for the rapid payments. Deliveroo has also reduced onboarding fees for new restaurants.
Mobile ordering technology provider wi-Q Technologies has developed purpose-built software, with no deployment fees, no transaction commissions and no contracts and made it free of charge for the first three months, with a further cut in price by 50 per cent for the remainder of 2020.
Customers can access a venue’s menu via a URL link or QR code, place their order and pay by card. The interface is easily brand-customisable and offers product search as well as filtering for dietary and allergen requirements.
Still chasing late payments? Check out invoice chasing software provider Chaser’s ten free email templates to get debtors paying on time.
The social networking company has announced a wide range of measures to support businesses globally. This includes a $100m fund to support small businesses around the world, and the launch of a Business Resource hub full of information and advice.
Recruitment firm Kelly has teamed up with experts at CoachPro to offer freelancers and gig economy workers free online training and careers advice. The Kelly CoachPro app, developed by Stephen Gribben, is available free of charge for the first three months and provides comprehensive career assessment, identifies areas where training could help, and offers ways to achieve greater work fulfillment and reach career goals.
Kemp Little has launched a free advisory resource to help businesses navigate tax, legal and financial processes thrown into discord by coronavirus.
The Covid-19 Toolkit gives comprehensive advice on issues such as data protection, corporate governance, IP, contracts and people management for founders, SMEs and big business owners.
Leyton, an innovation funding specialist, has announced that it is providing a free R&D tax service to companies that are repurposing to support the coronavirus effort. This advice will help businesses to facilitate crucial cash flow, reclaim against costs such as staffing and consumables and claim the full tax relief each are eligible to receive.
The company has made its Learning Hub, which contains a range of short online courses supporting BTEC, Apprenticeships and Employability, free to access.
Business in the Community – The Prince’s Responsible Business Network with over 750 companies in membership, has launched the National Business Response Network to identify community needs across the UK and match them to the right business support.
Through Business in the Community’s vast regional and local connections and leaders on the ground, the National Business Response Network identifies national and local community needs from community groups, schools, local authorities, local resilience bodies, charities and alliances such as the British Red Cross Voluntary and Community Sector Emergencies Partnership and small businesses.
Sparqa Legal provides customisable documents and contracts and thousands of legal answers for businesses written by lawyers.
It is making all of its coronavirus resources available for free, including practical guides for employers during the outbreak, customisable furlough letter templates and coronavirus risk assessments.
A group of experts in disaster response, crisis phycology, high pressure decision making and human performance and health, have produced a series of free to access evidence-based one-page briefing notes on issues that are likely to be relevant during the coronavirus response. Each briefing note should take only a few minutes to read.
Making decisions in this kind of environment is hard. Our dedicated coronavirus page is specifically for business owners and leaders. It brings together the latest government support, advice across themes such as supporting your staff and communicating with customers, how leaders like you are reacting right now and the best of what the rest of the web has to offer.