What Small Businesses Need to Survive the Coronavirus Crisis?
Millions of small businesses are back open with common restrictions such as face-masks, 2-meter social distancing, 50% capacity, etc in different parts of the world. Although the demand is growing again, the pandemic is far from over.
Small businesses were worst hit by lockdowns and abrupt drop in demand for their services and products, especially during the second quarter of this year.
According to the Economic Impact Report from Yelp, one of the most trusted consumer-facing review platforms on the Internet, approximately 60% of businesses closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic are now “permanent.”
The report released in September was based on Yelp data available till August.
Navigating the unprecedented crisis has been difficult for small businesses. Those who have survived the lockdown despite steep fall in revenues, cash crunch, and high fixed-costs, need to tread carefully. Here in this post, we will shed light on some of the most important tips such small businesses should consider following to survive the Coronavirus crisis.
Focus on Cashflows
Right now, small businesses should focus on cashflows more than profits. You need to figure out a way to offer something essential to your target customers, even if it means deviating a bit from your main line of business. You need to adapt. This is one of the most important lessons that businesses have learnt from the COVID-19 situation.
Many catering businesses that came to a grinding halt amidst the pandemic, for instance, started serving packed meals to households to stay afloat. Several retail stores pivoted to a direct-to-consumer business model during the pandemic.
Think out of the box.
As the economy begins to revive worldwide, consider asking your existing vendors & suppliers if you can get a grace period or whether they can extend your payment term. Also, reduce your business expenses as much as you gain.
Many small businesses have restructured their workflows over the last few months. While most small businesses simply chose to lay off employees, others have cut hours or put most of their staff through furlough.
While making staffing changes, be sure not to let go of key employees. When the economy rebounds in the future, you’d want them in your team.
Letting go of trained team members will create additional delay and difficulty in bringing your small business back to normal over the next one year.
Embrace Remote Work
Even as millions of small business workers have returned to work, you may have realized that you can embrace remote work for the long haul.
Many small businesses, even when they have resumed operations, have at least half of their employees working from home.
You can also do the same. Just make sure to equip your remote workers with resources required to effectively work from home.
In the post COVID-19 world, millions of small, medium, and large scale businesses around the world will have a blend of work-from-home and work-from-the-office policies.
Keep Communicating With Your Customers
If your small business needs to make key changes that will directly affect your customers, be sure to be transparent with them. Such changes shouldn’t come as a surprise when they start availing of your services again.
It’s likely that you have resumed business operations already. Now it is time to communicate and demonstrate that your workers have been tested and are taking all precautions necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
You can get back to the normal sales more quickly if your customers trust your small business services as ‘safe’ during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Consumer preferences have changed. Many businesses have shut down. For many small businesses, this can be the best time to conduct market research to find out if they can launch a new service or product.
Just make sure not to panic and overspend on marketing campaigns. Avoid stocking up on excess inventory.
Do any other small businesses in your area provide services or offer products that are somewhat complementary to yours?
For instance, if you run a beauty salon, you can partner up with a retail store that provides at-home beauty care products.
Small business partnerships during the Coronavirus crisis can be based on short-term mutual gain or long-term business compatibility. In either case, such partnerships can help two companies sail through difficult times.
Make Use of Loans and Grants Available During the Pandemic
Local and federal governments as well as several financial institutions around the world are offering loans, grants, programs, resources, rent & mortgage support, etc. to help small businesses navigate the ongoing pandemic.
Do not expect a government representative to reach out and help you apply for such programs. You need to proactively search for such options.
Talk to other small business owners in your area to gather more information.
Any financial relief or indirect assistance at this time can mean the difference between shutting shop and staying afloat to fight another battle down the road.
Leon Reingold: Editor-in-Chief at Drugtestsinbulk.com, a nationwide supplier of drug and alcohol testing products online.