Posted: Wed 19th Jan 2022
Enterprise Nation and the London Borough of Tower Hamlets have partnered to deliver the Business Adaptation Project. This initiative offers 215 small businesses in the borough a programme of business support and a match-funded grant of up to £1,250.
Your business will qualify for the project as long as it:
has 1 to 49 employees
was trading in the Tower Hamlets borough before 30 June 2021
wants to adapt to the new business environment after COVID-19 and safeguard its future
Applications are open until March 2022 for businesses in Tower Hamlets. There are limited grants available, so here’s more information on how to apply today.
Case study – Kathryn Betts, Elizabeth May Photography
Small businesses across Tower Hamlets are being approved for Business Adaptation Project funding every day. One successful applicant is Kathryn Betts, who runs a photography business Elizabeth May Photography.
Enterprise Nation caught up with Kathryn to learn more about her business and her reasons for seeking grant funding and support through the project.
Hi Kathryn. To begin with, tell us what you do.
I’m a photographer who specialises in taking photos of newborns, babies, families with young children, and women who are pregnant.
What main challenges is your business facing right now?
The biggest challenge right now is the uncertainty from COVID. Not only might my business have to close down at a moment’s notice – which would leave me with no income – but the uncertainty seems to be preventing people from booking photography sessions too far into the future.
I specialise in newborn and family photography, and usually women book their sessions with me during their pregnancy, around three months before their due date. This gives me the security of knowing how much work to expect and allows me to plan my diary more effectively.
In the current climate though, I’m seeing fewer and fewer advance bookings. People are mainly contacting me for last-minute bookings instead. I’m also seeing a huge reduction in winter bookings, whereas in the past newborn photography has been an all-year-round business.
When COVID cases are high in the winter, people with newborns aren’t as confident about mixing with other people. Newborn sessions are also time-sensitive and so there’s constant pressure for me not to test positive for COVID as it would mean having to close my studio and postpone all my sessions.
What was your main reason for applying to the Business Adaptation Project for a grant?
When the pandemic hit, I was newly self-employed so I wasn’t eligible for any government support. This meant I had to rely on mortgage holidays and savings to get me through, which has affected how much I can invest in my business.
There’s a long list of things I want to do to improve the services I offer and make my business more sustainable and pandemic-proof. But with the start-stop nature of the last few years, I’ve constantly been playing catch-up.
I’m so excited to receive a grant as it should help me grow my business, diversify what I offer and give me a more sustainable and guaranteed source of income if there was another lockdown.
How will this money help your business in the future?
I’ll be using the grant in a few ways. I’m investing in equipment that’ll let me provide more outdoor photography for my clients. I do currently offer this, but because my primary focus is studio photography, I don’t have all of the right equipment for outdoor sessions, or a lens that will allow me to keep a safe distance from clients.
Once I have this equipment, I’ll be able to push this side of my business. And if there are any future lockdowns, I’ll be able to promote this service as something that I can still do safely.
Typically, once a session is done, clients will come back to my studio to order their photos. During the pandemic, however, I’ve tried to limit this face-to-face contact to reduce the chances of getting COVID. I’ve moved many of these appointments onto Zoom, but it’s a makeshift solution that doesn’t give my clients the best experience.
So I’ll use the rest of the grant money to invest in software that will allow clients to view their photo galleries and place their orders online. In time, this will let me book more clients each month, as I’ll be automating a process that I currently spend a lot of time on.
How to apply to the Business Adaptation Project
Applications are open until March 2022 for businesses in Tower Hamlets.