It’s a strange world to be in with the coronavirus (covid-19) posing a threat to us all, with many countries now in lock down and for good reason too. We are all uncertain of what the future brings, as well as how long it will actually take for everything to go back to normal. The first lock down in History and we are all part of it! 

Here in the UK, Boris Johnson announced the lock down not too long ago, explaining that it will initially last for 3 weeks and that the situation will be re-evaluated at the end of the 3 weeks. Depending on how we are all adapting to the coronavirus (covid-19) outbreak, and providing we are able to slow it down, then to possibility of a lift of the lock down is possible, although unlikely, especially as the number of deaths continue to rise. 

Myself and my my fiance actually had a wedding booked for April 25th, which was to take place on our 10 year anniversary, a special date for us both. I think that everything certainly became more ‘real’ when we received an email from the registry office confirming the cancellation of the ceremony due to the coronvavirus. This was followed by emails from the venue and others too. Although to be honest, we would have had to cancel everything anyway as the risk of catching or giving the virus to others just wouldn’t have been worth it. 

Coronavirus-CDC

The first signs that the coronavirus (covid-19) was affecting my gardening business

I would say that as soon as the coronavirus hit the UK (before we knew the extent of the outbreak) we started to feel the effects. I mean, at this time of year the phone would usually not stop ringing with new inquiries, but this year we have literally had nothing come through. With so many businesses going into liquidation and others loosing their jobs, even the uncertainty of not knowing ones financial future is enough to put someone off from having a garden makeover. I mean, it certainly wouldn’t be at the top of my priority list when there is a crisis going on!

We were actually still getting the same website traffic from our advertising, but this didn’t stop the fact that the phone just wasn’t ringing. It wasn’t long until we decided to put a stop to the advertising as it was costing us £400 per month. 

The lock down…

As a gardener, at the moment anyway, we are still allowed to work. The lock down states that providing you absolutely can not work from home (which us gardeners and landscapers can’t) then we can go to work (for the time being at least). This means that although we are aloud to work, we have chosen to stop working for the time being. 

The first reason is that we would first need to have the business! We are actually fully booked for the next few months, mostly due to recommendations from existing customers, but we would prefer to hit the ground running when it is safe to do so as opposed to using all of the business we have now and have no work when things go back to normal. 

The second reasons is the fact that you can carry the virus without any symptoms for the first couple of weeks which means that I could accidentally pass it onto my customers. It was for this reason that both myself and my business partner decided to stop working from Friday 27th March upon completion of a turfing job. We let every one know that we can’t come for the foreseeable future and that we will be in touch to start work as soon as we get the thumbs up. The last thing we want to do is unknowingly pass the virus onto others!

person in yellow coveralls spraying plant

My worries for the gardening business going forward…

I am quite lucky at the moment that I have been able to pay a few months in advance on the rent as well as other outgoings, with a family of 7, my partner and me as well as 5 children, the last thing I wanted to do was risk the roof over our heads! But we’ve still no idea how long this lock down will last and how long the coronavirus (covid-19) will pose a threat. 

In the UK, we have been promised 80% of our income over the last 3 years, but then there is a lot of confusion for those that have have been self employed for less than the 3 years stated. The confusion with myself is that I was self employed, but turned the business into a limited company only 1 year ago which means that I don’t think the 80% applies to myself as technically speaking, I am now employed by the company with me being a director. Who knows! I’m sure I will find out soon. 

The only other concern that I have right now is that myself and my business partner will most likely need to use money from the company in order to survive if things don’t start getting better soon, but this would mean using money that has been kept to one side for the corporation tax. At the moment, I am unsure if there will be any tax relief for those self employed or limited companies. Our busiest time of year is in the Summer, where we have to work 16 hour days in order to survive the Winter, so if we are on lock down all summer then this alone will pose a financial risk to the business. 

I sincerely wish all of you the very best in this time of need. Please remember to only go out if absolutely necessary and to wear PPE equipment when doing so. The risk to yourself and your families just isn’t worth it!