Small business is a victim of COVID-19, as big retailers remain open, but small businesses must close. The East London small business centre, usually bustling with people, is now quiet as the world’s enterprises try and cope with the virus. There’s a treasure island of resources that can help small business owners fight back against COVID-19.
There was no marketing plan for small businesses to deal with a pandemic, but the following steps can be followed to help fight back against the economic hardships ahead.
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Consider Remote Work Options
Remote workers have been able to keep a lot of small business operations afloat. Some business plan ideas have had to change. For example, restaurants have started to turn to takeout options with no-contact service.
Tech companies have little issues allowing their workforce to work remotely.
There are a lot of small business tools that can help allow some workers to work remotely:
- Collaborative services
Human resources, accounting, marketing, and similar teams have the most accessible means of transitioning to remote work. Every business is different, and putting a remote work option in place is a good step for every business to follow.
If you have to close in the future due to COVID-19 or another pandemic hits, already having a remote work option in place will lessen the impact. With the Internet being widely available, it’s easier than ever to offer remote options and cut back on office overhead in the process.
Give Employees Flexibility
Travel must be limited as well as meetings. The world has been transformed during this period, and it will be more acceptable than ever to hold virtual meetings. Significant conferences have gone virtual, too.
Reducing travel will be an excellent way to cut back on expenses and reduce the cost of small business travel insurance, too.
Flexibility for employees must also be provided. Your employees are transitioning to a new way of life. You’ll want to be understanding and offer your employees the option of:
- Taking time off if daycares close
- Leaving early due to emergencies
A contingency plan ought to be in place to help your business deal with unexpected employee shortages. You’ll have to determine ways to deal with employee absences and also deal with the possibility of workers getting sick.
If workers do get sick, you’ll want to have protocols in place to ensure proper safety measures are in place to keep customers and other employees from getting sick. You may even want to incorporate mask policies, add dividers between workspaces, and allow employees that are immunocompromised to work from home.
Be Transparent With Customers
Customers want to deal with transparent businesses. You need to be open with customers to tell them:
- When or if items will be delayed or no longer available
- When shipments will be later than normal
- How your business will be impacted at this time
- What hours of operation your business will run on
Transparency is the best way for a company to keep customers loyal. When a business is not transparent and doesn’t communicate with its customers properly, they will lose credibility and potential clients.
Utilize Resources Provided by the Government and Lenders
Resources are available in every country to help provide small business loans and small business grants to owners. Your business may or may not be able to secure this extra funding, and perhaps your small business doesn’t need funding.
Those that do need financial relief and funding of some sort should consider:
- Government websites that provide a list of grants
- Small business associations
- COVID-19 programs to help small business
It’s up to owners to keep up to date on what’s available and what government programs can help businesses stay afloat during this time. Lenders have a social responsibility to provide aid whenever possible, although it can be challenging to meet new, stringent loan requirements.
Interest rates around the world are down, so even a traditional loan can be sought that offers better terms and is more affordable. Dubai, for example, is working on a package to help SMEs, and the UK is providing support to business owners. PPP is being offered in the US to offset the losses many owners face.
Suppliers and landlords may be more understanding at this time, too.
Plan for the Future Today
A few months from now, life will begin going back to normal, or at least partially back to normal. You need to consider the future, and this can be done in numerous ways:
- Seek small business insurance that deals with workplace interruption
- Consider what employees may need to be removed or have hours lowered
- Discuss new terms with vendors and suppliers
- Plan out your cash flow and make a three-month plan
- Work with managers and leaders to plan the future of the business
- Seek out opportunities or other ways to make money
- Unite your staff and communicate with them all along the way
There will be a time shortly when the lockdown and the coronavirus are a thing of the past. Life will go back to normal, but it’s up to businesses to find a foothold in the world during and after the virus.
Future planning means having a way to keep your business afloat, pay your bills, and get through this challenging financial period. Once you have all of your measures in place, you’ll also want to consider the restrictions that you may or may not have when customer levels return to normal.
You may need to require customers to wear masks, or you may have to put up cleaning stations that allow customers to clean their hands when entering and leaving the store. Employees may have new rules to follow as your small business adheres to new guidelines.
Small business owners are working to understand how life will be different at this time. The pandemic has led to a change in how people think about business, and it’s up to every owner to try and navigate the tricky waters ahead.
What steps are you taking to keep your business afloat during the pandemic?
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