Surviving the COVID-19 Crisis as a Small Business
In March 2020, the governors of most states forced small businesses to shut down to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. Some have since reopened while others are currently making plans to do so. Business owners who have never faced a crisis of this magnitude have a great deal of anxiety about financial recovery and keeping their doors open moving forward. Below are several tips compiled from business experts on how to recover and eventually thrive once the threat of coronavirus no longer exists.
Create a Survival Plan
A business plan that worked for a company before the pandemic isn’t necessarily going to work now. That means business owners must be willing to start over in deciding how to run their company.
They also need to realize that this worldwide health crisis is going to be around for a while, which means no one can expect the economy to bounce back overnight. It could require some tough decisions such as reducing hours, cutting staff, or dropping some of the least profitable product lines.
Redesigning the business as much as possible from the moment of reopening will make it easier to manage rather than having to continually make difficult decisions. Business owners can always add back what they needed to cut to survive when the economy becomes more stable. Here are several areas to consider when creating a survival plan:
- Strategy: This can be a one-page document describing how to redesign the business to get through the crisis.
- Budget: A month-by-month budget for the expected duration of the crisis with an emphasis on which bills to pay in which order.
- Financial projections: This should include an income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement.
- Explore pivots: Unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures. For hard hit industries like restaurants and dining, owners are shifting to takeout and offering discounts, selling pre-paid meal kits to cook at home, and exploring creative options.
Remember that the survival plan is only good for the duration of the crisis and that the business can go back to its typical plan or create a revised one after it is no longer a threat.
Research and Take Advantage of Government Resources for Business Owners
Shortly after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a worldwide pandemic in March, the federal government creates the CARES Act, the Paycheck Protection Act, and other programs to help businesses survive the shutdown. Unfortunately, some programs quickly ran out of money while others had inefficient operation due to how quickly they came together. Business owners must be persistent in researching and applying for new programs. They may also need to put pressure on local and federal legislatures to provide more relief for struggling companies. Banks, especially those backed by the Small Business Administration, may have programs available for business owners as well.
Focus on Safety
Both employees and customers need to feel safe at a business before it can begin thriving again. Customer-facing businesses need to implement new cleaning and sanitation practices while office environments may need a new layout to ensure employee safety.
In an era when a business faces ruin due to too many negative social media reviews, it’s imperative to implement the safety plan before allowing customers back into the business. Keeping both employees and the public updated about specific safety measures such as testing and cleaning procedures can go a long way toward gaining their trust and moving forward.