The coronavirus pandemic of 2020 has been a brutal blow to many small businesses. Even the best contingency plans often overlooked the possibility of a complete extended shutdown of non-essential businesses. With frightening talk of a second wave or rolling shutdowns, as small businesses around the globe continue to fight to survive.
Five crucial steps for a small business to survive a shutdown
- Expand your business’s digital footprint—Adapt or die is the harsh new reality for many small businesses. Whatever your business model, one immediate step is enlarging the digital footprint of your business as quickly as possible. The shutdown requires that brick and mortar stores establish some type of online business model. If your business does not have a blog, now is the time to start one. You also need to reach as many of your customers as possible with email newsletters. These newsletters allow you to stay in touch with your customer base and inform them about changes in your business.
- Change how your business operates—Whether you are still under a complete shutdown, or planning for what could happen in the future, think about changes you could make to continue doing business in the event of another complete shutdown.
Can you ship your products from an online store, or offer free local delivery? Can a portion of your business be done remotely? If so, how can you grow that portion of your business? For instance, if you own a music store and offer music lessons, can you sell your inventory from an online store, and set up lessons conducted online. You can also explore the option of providing curbside service if it is possible with your small business.
- Update your payment options—If your small business has not entirely embraced mobile payment options, now is the time to start. Venmo, Paypal, Bitcoin, and other means of virtual payments comply with social distancing policies and can give you an edge over other competitors that cannot yet accommodate a wide range of payment options. Not only will taking this step help you stay afloat during a shutdown, but it will give you a competitive edge when things get back to normal.
- Postpone all possible capital expenditures—Now is not the time to continue with capital projects to expand your business, as there is no way of knowing how long the shutdown will last or what the ultimate financial implications will be. Hold the money as a reserve as you attempt to adapt to a business model that can still function during a shutdown.
- Protect the health of your employees and customers—Complying with local guidelines is the minimum you should do to protect the health of everyone involved in your business. If possible, seek to exceed these standards and publicize the above-and-beyond safety measures you are instituting. The news about COVID-19, and the proper safety precautions, has changed rapidly throughout the pandemic. Having a small business that goes above and beyond standard safety measures will offer your employees and your customers a measure of confidence that their health and safety is vital to your business. Exceeding the minimum requirements for health and safety, and other similar steps, build customer confidence and support loyalty to your small business that will not disappear with the virus.
Can your small business not only survive but thrive during a shutdown?
Technology is a vital part of enabling small businesses to adapt to disruptions like the pandemic and even thrive if they can quickly adapt their small business to embrace technology to comply with state and local regulations regarding social distancing.
Flexible work arrangements that allow your employees to work from home, thanks to technology, is helping many small businesses to embrace flex work. Employees using technology to do their jobs effectively from home lowers your overhead, keeps your employees safe, and allows your small business to gain a quick advantage over businesses that can not adapt as quickly.
As an added advantage, establishing ways to allow employees to work from home when needed will be a valuable asset for both your business and your employees after the shutdown ends. Having the option to work from home when a child is sick, or an employee feels under the weather, fosters job satisfaction. It also reduces the costs of lost productivity due to unavoidable circumstances that previously would have meant an employee being unable to work at all.
Exploring changes to your business model may help keep your small business afloat during the pandemic. Those changes can also serve as a valuable tool to grow your business after the shutdown ends. Creatively expanding the goods and services offered by small businesses is often very successful, adding to the overall value of the business that will continue to grow exponentially after the shutdown.