The current Coronavirus pandemic has raised a lot of alarm, and not just for the tragic health consequences felt by many. There are also many small (and large) business owners who are struggling because of changes that have resulted from the different restrictions and understandable consumer doubt that have been caused by the virus. And while you may not be able to change the state of the world yourself, you can adapt and change your business to better suit the current times.
Are you worried about your business surviving the pandemic? Here are the main things it needs to survive:
An Online Presence and Plan
In the current times we are seeing just how businesses live or die by their online presences. While we would be surprised if you do not have an online presence (whether for marketing or ordering purposes) already, we would advise you to do so now, letting your regular customers and clients know exactly where you are, that you haven’t gone anywhere in the long run, and that you are happy to help them as best as you are able. People that otherwise might not have considered such things will now be looking up your business for updates.
If you do not have an extensive website at this point or ways to better order your products and services online (and by phone), then now would be a good time to start working on it. The same goes for a solid internet connection you can rely on. The investments made in your website, technology, and social media presence now will more than pay itself back during the pandemic, where people will be looking to buy goods and services online on a more frequent basis.
Safety Measures for Customers and Employees Alike
Due to both government mandate and out of the need to keep yourself, your employees, and your customers safe, the first thing you need to do is put in place safety measures as would be appropriate for your business. Since the guidelines may differ from state to state and we cannot list every requirement for every type of business, we recommend you look these up yourself and take specific notes as well as check CDC guidelines.
If your employees and teams can work remotely without issue, that makes things all the easier for you, and hopefully you can proceed with business as (mostly) usual. Just make sure there is a plan in the event employees need to come in quick to grab an important file or document.
You do not know what is going to happen, and while normally as a business owner you do not want too much liquidity and assets that are not working for you and your business, now is the time to be a bit more conservative, assuming you do not need to make major changes as a priority.
While we do not suggest you go to extreme measures to obtain more liquidity (you do not want to put yourself in a bad position when the pandemic is over due to poorly thought out loans and selling of property at a great loss), you should be trying to delay larger expenses when possible and in general reducing expenses when it would make sense, especially in cases where demand for your products and services might be reduced.
A Shutdown Plan
Things may very well get worse before they get better, which may necessitate an outright lockdown of most businesses, public travel, and more, as has happened in other countries. And while you may want to believe the government will offer assistance in such an event, you should not rely on that idea as your sole means of salvation. Additionally, there is still the matter of how you are going to handle the needs of your employees. You should ask yourself and your managers (if applicable) the following:
- How will you handle employees, layoffs, and hours during a shutdown? What would be most appropriate for all involved?
- What activities can still occur even in shutdown conditions? Can any preparations be done from home? Are there projects that can at least be started in the downtime?
- How quickly will you be able to shut everything down? How much notice of a shutdown will you need to make sure that you lose as little stock as possible (perhaps this is most applicable to restaurants and businesses that sell goods with expire) and close safely?
- How will you handle shutdowns of differing lengths? The plans for a one-week shutdown will likely look vastly different than those for a one-month shutdown. Just do not forget that a shutdown may be extended after it begins.
An Understanding of Current Events and Policy
We are not asking you to spend every waking hour glued to your phone, looking for the latest update or infection rate, but it is an excellent idea to have a general knowledge of what policymakers on a local, state, and federal level are thinking so that you can have some appropriate backup plans.
You should also try to be as aware as possible of any tax breaks or programs you can utilize as a result of a pandemic-response legislation, as well as any upcoming regulations you might have to adhere to soon. Whatever you can do to minimize losses is a bit longer you can hold out under the pandemic is over or mitigated and people can return to business as usual.
A Deep Understanding of Your Own Industry
If you have been in business for any length of time already you almost certainly have this if you have survived so far, but take this section as a reminder that every business and industry will be reacting to the pandemic differently, and general advice might not be good for your particular business model. What works for retail will not work for restaurants. Not every small business can easily sell their products online.
You know your business better than anyone else, and with some careful thinking and additional research, you will know how you can create some additional streams of revenue, backup plans, and tasks to keep the business moving forward even in the worst of times.
While we understand that your business is a unique entity and that you should not simply take all of the above as and follow it blindly, we do hope that the advice above has helped you to focus on what you need and how you will get it. While some areas may be better off than others now, the pandemic clearly is not going anywhere for some time. We wish you and your business the best of luck and the best of health in the months moving forward.