Issue #13 - Unlucky for some 🙃

Flood protection | Taking a side hustle to the next level | Why are supermarket shelves empty? | How to protect your business from the 'pingdemic' | Sound Advice | 80s tunes | More

🦾 G O

It could be worse, it could be raining ⛈

The summer was fun while it lasted. But it looks like coat weather has replaced shorts weather early this year, so let’s do what we do best and have a quiet moan about the barmy British weather.

The recent deluges have been causing problems from the north of Scotland to the south of England - if you live in a region at risk from flooding, the rain is more than a minor inconvenience. Much more than a matter of gentle tutting and head-shaking.

Flooding is a problem for thousands of homes and businesses each year. If you’ve not yet been affected but live in an at-risk area, it’s worth putting some protective sandbags in place now and moving any valuables and critical equipment out of harm’s way.

You should also keep a list of important phone numbers to hand, including your business gas and electricity suppliers and your business insurance provider.

It’s also worth doing some long-term flood planning, such as:

  • Replacing downstairs carpets with sealed wood or ceramic tiles.

  • Fitting any water entry points, including doors and airbricks, with flood skirts and use water-resistant sealant on doors, windows, and skirting boards.

  • Raising electrical sockets as high up the wall as possible.

  • Plastering walls with waterproof lime plaster and get a chemical damp-proof course.

And you should regularly check drains to make sure they’re clear from any blockages, which can exacerbate rising water levels, and fit one-way valves to pipes and water outlets so no water can flow back up them.

For more detailed info, check out how to prepare your business for storms, floods and bad weather.

And so to Issue #13 (uh-oh) of The Backbone, the fortnightly business bulletin from Bionic


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🗣  S H O U T O U T

#BionicBusinessStory - A Petite Baker 🧁

Bionic caught up with Anna Yu, a trainee biomedical scientist studying for her Masters, to talk about baking. She revealed how cooking has been helping her mental health from an early age. 

Bionic: What made you want to start your own business? 

Anna Yu: “When I was studying for my A-Levels, I was suffering from depression and I found that baking really helped me, I would make cakes for my friend’s birthdays. When I went to university, I finally had my own kitchen, so I was able to bake whenever I wanted. It developed from there, I knew a girl who was also from Hong Kong like me. She mentioned one day that she really missed the traditional Hong Kong bakeries so I made her some Hong Kong style buns. She loved them and suggested I set up a business.” 

B: What are your future plans? 

AY: “I’ve always dreamt of having a café one day and my dream picture is to own a library café because I love reading too. I’d also love to start blogging in the future about my baking experiences.” 

B: What is the hardest part about starting a business? 

AY: “I just had no idea how to set up a business and I still don’t. I have an Instagram and Facebook page, but you have to be really smart with hashtags and things like that so it’s hard to get your business out there. There’s not really a lot of help.” 

B: What’s been your proudest achievement? 

AY: “I made a few of my work colleagues' cakes, one was their son’s birthday cake and another was an engagement cake. I'm really proud of both of those and I think everyone enjoyed eating them. But I'm also quite proud of my time management, it's been hard studying for a Masters and finding time to bake. It’s a lot of work.” 

To see some of Anna’s handiwork, check out a_petitebaker on Instagram. Click on the cake below to read the rest of this #BionicBusinessStory


📩 J O I N

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📰 N E W S

Why are our supermarket shelves empty? 🛒

Noticed how the supermarket shelves have been worryingly empty these last few weeks? The ‘pingdemic’ has been doing a lot of heavy lifting when it comes to apportioning blame, but there’s way more to it than a seemingly over-zealous Covid app.

What’s going on?

A ‘pingdemic’ is sweeping the UK, as more and more people are being told by the NHS app that they need to self-isolate for up to ten days. This is hitting businesses hard, especially those already suffering from post-Covid job shortages.

M&S has warned that the ‘pingdemic’ could see it close some of its stores temporarily if it doesn't have enough workers to keep them open. Iceland has already been forced to shut some shops and some BP garages have also had to close.

A shortage of lorry drivers is causing particular issues for the supermarket supply chain - Tesco alone says it’s creating 48 tonnes of food waste each week as fresh goods destined for its stores is being left to rot.

But let’s not forget the big Brexit-shaped elephant in the room. As we reported in Issue #12 of The Backbone, the UK was already suffering from a shortfall of up to 100,000 lorry drivers before people started getting pinged by the NHS app.

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) warned last month that supermarkets were already complaining that their expected food stocks weren’t arriving due to the HGV shortage.

The hot weather has seen demand for lolly ices and bottled water outstrip supply, and even the Suez Canal blockage (that happened back in March) is having a knock-on effect.

It’s easy to blame the current situation in our shops on people getting pinged, but the reasons go way beyond that. It’s safe to say we’ll still be feeling the effects long after the pingdemic (and the pandemic) is over.


🤝🏻 T I P S

How to protect your business from the pingdemic 📳

It doesn’t matter how big or small your business is, it’s currently in danger of staff and stock shortages. Although we can’t do anything about the impact of Brexit (that jingoistic ship sailed long ago), we can offer some ideas to help you cope with the effects of the pingdemic.

  1. Be understanding - There’s a good chance staff won’t want to miss out on work, so try to be understanding of the position they’re in and keep checking in on them to see how they’re doing. This will help with morale in a tough situation.

  2. Put a contingency plan in place - If the last 18 months have taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. If you were able to keep running through the lockdowns, it could be time to put those practices back in place (such as offering takeaway if you have to close and only have a skeleton staff).

  3. Be aware of the new rules - To help businesses cope with staff shortages, the government has stated that certain workers don’t need to self-isolate providing they are fully vaccinated and can produce negative covid tests.

To find out if your business falls into one of those sectors, and to get a couple more tips (we have limited space in a newsletter) check out our blog Five Simple ways to safeguard your business from the ‘pingdemic’.


🗞 R E A D

The number of people on furlough has fallen sharply, with young people moving off the government scheme fastest, new figures show.

Fewest people on furlough since the pandemic began

To find out the true production cost of a garment is a tortuous process. Here is what you need to know to buy clothes with a clear conscience

Can you tell how ethical your clothing is by its price?


🎧 L I S T E N

Playlist

Another one from Dan, Senior Marketing Operations Manager at Bionic, The ‘80s All Lined Up goes from Aztec Camera to XTC, via The Fall, The Smiths, The The, and loads of alternative 80s classics.

Podcast

Just as we were struggling to find a podcast for this week’s issue, our mates over at Hargreaves of Buxton took to Twitter to tell the world of “another @sageuk podcast for small businesses. There’s always something useful with each episode!”

We had a listen to Sound Advice, and they weren’t wrong.


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