Business Survival Guide

 

This new section is a resource that’s dedicated to sharing information that could help your small business survive the Coronavirus crisis. This will be the place to find links to useful sites, webinars, videos and organisations that are dedicated to helping the self-employed survive the next few months until we all get back on our feet again.

We’ll also be publicising any initiatives companies are coming up with to provide support and we’re more than happy to share ideas that any photographers might have that they feel would help others.

And, at these difficult times, we’d also love to share anything you might have in the way of light relief, since we could all do with a little cheering up, so get in touch, use us as a forum to share thoughts, feedback and information and, above all, stay safe and well. Email: terry@professionalphoto.online or use the contact form below.

Help For the Self Employed

The government has now stepped in to offer help for the self-employed, which includes the vast majority of photographers and filmmakers of course, and for many this will provide some support to enable the business to keep trading. However, there are still strings attached that will leave a number of photographers outside of the scheme and even if you are eligible you won’t receive a grant, which equates to 80% of average monthly profits and will be capped at £2500 a month, until June at the earliest.

  • How to Apply. There’s nothing you need to do at the moment. If you’re eligible you’ll be contacted by HMRC ‘once the scheme is operational’ and then you’ll need to fill in an online form and the grant will be paid directly into your bank account and backdated until March.
  • Who is eligible? You must be earning over half of your total income from self-employment, from either your 2018/19 tax return or the average of your last three years’ tax returns. Your average trading profit must be less than £50,000 and you need to have filed a tax return for 2018/19, although if you missed the deadline the government is giving you until Sunday April 26 to get it in. You don’t have to stop looking for work to apply for the grant and this won’t affect whether you get one or not. If you’ll struggle to stay afloat until June then you’ll be allowed to use the money you would have used to pay your quarterly VAT bill and defer this until your next quarter.
  • Who won’t be helped? If you’re one of the many small businesses that operates as a limited company and you pay yourself dividends then you’re outside of the scheme and you won’t be given a grant. If your business was just getting started and you made a loss in the last financial year or you only became self-employed this year and haven’t had the chance to file a tax return yet then you’re also not eligible for help. You can, however, apply for a ‘business interruption loan,’ that offers access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance. The government might also consider giving you a ‘business interruption payment’ to cover the first twelve months of interest and fees on the loan. The scheme is now open for applications and is offered by all major banks.

Sign the Petition: If you feel that small home-based businesses who operate as limited companies should be given the same help as other small businesses you can sign the petition here:

Informative Videos

Martin Lewis explains Coronavirus  income support for self-employed people.

Four steps to managing your cashflow during the coronavirus crisis

Now check out these other great resources.

Mortgages

If you have a mortgage you can apply to your bank for a three month mortgage ‘holiday’ to give you a little respite from bills.

It’s not compulsory for banks to offer this help but many are being understanding about things and it won’t affect your credit rating.

Some lenders are also offering a holiday on personal loan payments so it’s important to talk to your bank if you’re struggling

Universal Credit

From April 6 if you’re single and 25 or over, you can get a monthly standard allowance of up to £409.89 (both new and existing claims). Over a year, that’s £4918, up from £3813. You may get more or less than the standard allowance dependent on your earnings (and your partner’s if you live with them), whether you’ve got children and other factors. Universal Credit could also help you to pay your rent or mortgage through the housing element.

Save Money

The Money Saving Expert website has a ton of useful and up-to-date information for the self-employed. 

They have information on how to delay your next set of self-assessment tax payments until January 2021 (usually due on July 31) and how to claim employment and support allowance (ESA) if you’re sick and can’t work and much much more.

Small business Commissioner

Can help small businesses who are struggling to cope with late payments.

Enterprise Nation

Has set up a scheme whereby small businesses can generate advance sales of their goods and services to ease the immediate pressure.

Business Interruption Loan Scheme

If your business needs short term cashflow support you may be able to access a government backed loan that will be available to you interest free for twelve months.

Light blue

Is running useful guides for social photographers who are using their business organisation software.

Federation of Small Businesses

Has some key advice for the self-employed.

N

Coronavirus Financial Helpline

0300 456 3565.

Business Initiatives

The industry is rallying around and many suppliers are offering incredible deals right now to benefit those who are finding it a struggle at the moment to keep their small businesses running. If you come across something you feel we should share or want to add an offer yourself then let us know and we’ll add you to the list.

Serif is offering a 90-day free trial of its Mac and Windows versions of the entire Affinity Suite, including Affinity Photo. It’s also offering a 50% discount on the products for those that would like to buy and keep the apps, which don’t carry a subscription cost. The company will also be engaging more than 100 freelance creatives for work, spending the equivalent of its annual commissioning budget in the next three months.

Light Blue software, set up and run by working social photographer Tom Catchesides, is posting useful information for fellow professionals (see links) and Light Blue is offering its subscribers a 50% discount for three months, which is available until the end of 2020.

Soho Editors is giving a massive discount to freelancers for its live online training courses, which are now available for £100 plus VAT a day. Courses being offered include a two-day Introduction to Photoshop course (April 2-3), a two day Introduction to Premiere Pro course (April 15-17) and a three-day Advanced Premiere Pro Course Bundle (April 20-22). To sign up send an email to: training@sohoeditors.com

Brett Florens is presenting Corona Conversation webcasts through his Focal Lounge website that are designed to offer advice to photographers struggling to cope with the business fallout from the pandemic. Here’s the link to his first broadcast.

AOP

The Association of Photographers is offering free Access Membership to new non-members throughout March, April, May and June, after which you’ll be invited to join permanently. Anyone joining during this time will get free access to the members’ area of the AOP website, the AOP Forum and updates. Head to their website and enter the code COMMUNITY at the check-out.

Melissa Love’s Marketing Fix is completely free this month and you can access the membership using the code freemonthfix

Apple have announced that both Final Cut Pro X and Logic Pro X will offer 90-day free trials for all customers.

As creative Mac users, along with students, find themselves creating projects on new systems, Apple wanted to make the transition from office to home easier. Both apps are also great tools for students who may already be using them in school, but don’t have the apps on their home computers.  As well, it’s Apple’s hope that customers who are looking for something new to master will try out these free trials to create new music with Logic Pro X or new videos with Final Cut Pro X.

Final Cut has long had a 30-day free trial. Effective immediately, Apple is extending it to 90-days. Logic has never had a free trial before and it should be available soon. This offer is also available to folks who have already downloaded the previous 30-day free trial for Final Cut.

NOTE: This is a limited time offer and is expected to revert back to 30-day in the future.

At this time, the free trial does not extend to Compressor or Motion.

Download link: Final Cut Pro X

Download link: Logic Pro X

 

Extra Information

At this time it’s crucial to conserve any money you might have in the bank to keep you going, so take advantage of mortgage holidays if they’re available to you and look to defer any outgoings if you’re given the opportunity to do so. If you can afford to, put the money you would have spent on VAT into a separate account so that you’re aware it will still have to be paid but it means you have access to it should it become necessary. It’s also been announced that proposed IR35 changes that were due to come into force around now and which could have made it difficult for the self-employed to work regularly for a client without having to be on the payroll have now been suspended for a year.

  • If you’re VAT registered your VAT payment for 20th March to 30th June 2020 will automatically be deferred. This is an automatic offer and you do not need to apply for this. Taxpayers will be given until the end of April 2021 to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal.
  • Regarding tax payments, you can now defer your payment on account (and also any outstanding tax liabilities) from July 2020 to January 2021. This is an automatic offer and you do not need to apply for this.
  • If you already owe tax for last year, the ‘time to pay’ offer has been increased and you will have more time to pay. You will need to speak to HMRC to arrange this – call them on 0800 0159 559. NB the wait time is very currently long for the call to be answered, so if you aren’t due to pay until July, leave it until next month to call them.

Good News Stories

Otis on the case!

We all need a few happy stories to keep us going at the moment, and David Newton is showing how professional photographers can keep themselves occupied during periods when work is thin on the ground by documenting the escapades of his gorgeous puppy Otis, who now has a regular following on Instagram and David’s FB page.

I started an Insta page for Otis when we got him as he’s a handsome pedigree and I thought it would be a fun thing to do,” says David. “As the lockdown has approached I decided to share them on FB too to bring some colour and fun to everyone’s feeds. It makes his walks more interesting as he goes out with a GoPro on his back, or sometimes I put it on the floor and make him run around it. It’s definitely giving me a creative outlet while stuck at home and making me think of different shots I can get of him or, in the case of the portraits, different ways of taking pics of him.

It’s good practice too – they say don’t work with children and animals and, at five month’s old, he’s a combination of the two, so doubly difficult! So working out how to capture him in a small space and how to light him keeps my mind active and helps hone my skills. I’m not sure it’s keeping me sane, but hopefully it’s bringing a little cheer to everyone else in these times of stress and uncertainty.”

Client Email Template

This ties into Melissa Love’s column on business survival that’s running in Professional Photo Issue 170 and is a template for an email you might choose to send out to client who has booked wedding photography with you.

Reveal Wedding proforma template

Dear Client A and Client B,

I truly hope that you are both well in this rather strange time we find ourselves in. I know from speaking to my clients that planning a wedding can be stressful under normal circumstances, let alone with all the global uncertainty we are now faced with.

To relieve some of that potential stress, I wanted to pop in to your In Box and provide you with some clarity in terms of your wedding photography booking and the coronavirus situation.

Firstly, my priority is to keep well and to shoot your wedding. I was excited about it when you booked me, and I am still excited about it now. Until instructed otherwise by the government, I am operating business as usual. 

However I am taking appropriate measures to avoid infection. I am limiting all social contact by avoiding crowded places and unnecessary outings. I’m very fortunate that I live in a village and I can do all my shopping online. I also love washing my hands!

That being said I am aware that in the current circumstances that your wedding plans could change. For this reason I have been putting in several contingency plans, which I want to share with you.

If I become infected with Coronavirus

I will follow the government guidelines by self-isolating and I will not be shooting your wedding. Your health, and the health of your guests, is of the utmost importance and I don’t want to put anyone at risk of infection. To be prepared, I have already been seeking a back-up photographer (of a similar style to me) to cover your wedding should this happen. In the event that this happens I would inform you and arrange an online meeting between me, the back-up photographer and you, to go through the plans for your wedding. Your wedding would be photographed exactly as I would do so. I would then edit the photographs from the back-up photographer and deliver your final images as normal.

If I become infected with Coronavirus and I cannot find a back-up photographer

This is very unlikely, but it’s important that you know what would happen in this event. It’s my priority that you have your wedding captured, but in the unlikely event that does not happen then all of your money would be returned to you and the booking would be cancelled. I am in a very large network of wedding photographers (and other wedding industry professionals) and it has been amazing to see how everyone has been coming together to help each other in the last week of turmoil.

If you decide to postpone your wedding

Please let me know as soon as possible if you are thinking of doing this. In these current circumstances I am happy to move your wedding booking to your new wedding date on the condition that I am available. I really want to shoot your wedding – so please do check on my availability if you are considering this. Your balance fee would be split into two payments, the first payment being its original due date and the second payment being the 1st day of the month of your new wedding date.

If the government enforces cancellation of your wedding because of quarantine

ln this event I will contact you to ensure that we have an open dialogue. I completely understand that this would be very disappointing for both of you. Assuming that you both still want to get married once the quarantine is lifted, I will be happy to transfer your wedding photography booking to your new wedding date – provided that I am available. Please keep in regular contact with me so we can find a date that suits all of your wedding suppliers availability. 

If you have to reduce the size of your wedding so that it can still go ahead

Your wedding photography booking would be unaffected in this circumstance. However, I completely understand that your wedding photos will become even more important as they will be the best way to share your photos with those who could not attend your wedding. Your package already includes the delivery of approximately 100 images within one week of your wedding, which you can share with all your friends and family that were unable to attend.

I hope this has been helpful for you. Please do get in contact if you have further questions. Don’t forget that if you want to look at your wedding photography contract and invoice, you can do that by accessing your client portal.

(Kindly provided by Rowan Williams)

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