There’s no question that the coronavirus pandemic has had a profound impact on the small business community. After facing significant disruption in business, many organizations have been forced to regroup and adjust the way they do business. With no clear time for a return to normalcy, local businesses have had to adjust to a new and unusual routine. Some are facing capacity restrictions while others work to address other safety guidance, as well as staff and customer concerns. How does a business owner cope and work towards recovery and building back even stronger than before? We have some tips we believe will help.
- Assess the damage. The financial impact has been devastating for many local businesses. It’s time to evaluate the damages and calculate an accurate picture of the losses. If you haven’t already done so, cut all unnecessary spending. Look for every possible opportunity to save. Small things add up and can mean significant savings. Eliminating waste will help you get back on steadier footing while you work to recover. Examine your financials. What is your financial picture this year as compared to last year? What areas do you see for improvement?
- Evaluate your staffing. Your current staffing needs may be very different than your needs at the same time last year. You may have had to make the tough decision of laying off employees as a result of the pandemic. Possibly some staff has returned to work, but you are unsure of what to do going forward. This plays into your overall financial picture. Now is the time to honestly evaluate your staffing needs keeping emotions out of the decision-making process. Evaluate your workforce capabilities and adjust to make the most of your resources. If you have staff working remotely and plan on bringing them back together, be sure you have all proper safety measures in place.
- Re-evaluate business goals. Your old business goals may not fit with the current market conditions. The pandemic has disrupted the normal flow of business for most of the country. It’s time to revisit your priorities and set new goals concentrating on financial recovery. The faster you identify and set new goals and make the changes needed to meet those goals, the better your chances of improving your financial condition. Develop a timeline for rebuilding and for recovery. The strategic decisions you make now will affect your overall recovery.
- Ongoing communication with your staff and with your customer base is key. Keep both staff and customers up to date on all safety practices you have in place to protect them, as well as any changes regarding your business. You not only want to make everyone feel safe and comfortable but also make it as easy as possible for customers to do business with you. Communication is also more important than ever with staff working from home and possibly feeling distanced. It will make everyone feel they are part of the team and it will help build morale. Make sure your customers and your staff know how much you appreciate their support during these tough times.
- Revise your business model if necessary. Are you a retail business that has to adjust to online selling or a restaurant that has had to change to a takeout concept? You may be operating in a way you never imagined. As a business owner, you must be proactive in your decision-making and your ability to pivot and adapt to a new normal. Embrace change and use it to move forward. WIX and Shopify are great tools for establishing an e-commerce presence.
- Rebuild and Rebrand. Your business may not be the same as it was a year ago. The current situation may have caused you to adjust your sails and go in a different direction. If that’s the case, you’ll want to rebrand to reflect your current business. Investigate new sales channels. If 100 percent of your sales previously came from a brick and mortar location, you may have had to switch to an online presence. No matter where you are in this process, make your presence known. Build your social media reach and be responsive to your followers. Did you realize that Facebook Shops enable you to sell from anywhere in your customizable online shops? It’s always important to be aware of your customers’ needs and how you are meeting those needs. Communicate your brand in all you do.
- Seek financial help if needed. Unless you had a large emergency savings fund or received enough financial assistance, you may be in need of a business loan to help with further recovery. If you are in need of funding, speak to your credit union loan officer. Choice One Community Credit Union is here to help you weather the storm and rebuild your business. Whether it is a loan or line of credit for new equipment or technology to help you adjust to a new way of doing business or a business credit card, we can help.
- Plan for the next crisis. No one ever expected a pandemic to bring business to a standstill, especially in the United States. It took us all by surprise. Now is the time to set a plan in place to address a future emergency situation that disrupts your business, such as this one. COVID-19 has opened our eyes to the importance of business contingency plans. Identify any potential crisis that might affect you. Isolate the risks relevant to your location. Determine how you can minimize the impact of a crisis on your business. How do you plan on dealing with the next emergency and minimizing business disruption? This plan should include building a cash reserve when you get your business back on track. Work now to be better prepared in the future.