Luke Hayward writes for Funding Circle, a peer-to-peer lending marketplace that allows the public to lend money directly to small- and medium-sized businesses. He contributed today’s guest post on seven tips for small business owners and startups during the Coronavirus pandemic.
If you are a small business owner, you are understandably stressed about the potential impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. Beyond the obvious health concerns, people are staying home as society tries to flatten the curve, and as a result, people are spending less.
For many small businesses, this lack of consumer activity is an existential threat. Revenues will start decreasing and there is no sign of when things will return to normal. While stress and anxiety are understandable, you need to get past these feelings and start taking action. The measures you take now to get Coronavirus help for your business could be the difference between making it through this crisis and failure.
Safeguard the Workplace
If your business is still in operation, you need to do what you can to make sure your location is safe for your employees and customers. You will need sanitation policies to disinfect and clean areas where people work and meet. You should have personal hygiene policies for things like hand washing to prevent the spread of the virus. Businesses can also find valuable advice from the CDC for maintaining a safe workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Educate Your Staff
You can’t forget your role as a leader at this time. Your staff is looking to you for information concerning what to expect and what they should do. Make sure you are well-informed concerning the best practices for staying safe both in and out of work and share this information with your employees. You should also keep your employees abreast of important developments so they won’t be surprised if there is a sudden change in the way your business operates.
Customers need to know that they can feel safe interacting with your business. Make sure they know about the policies you are taking to provide a safe workplace for your employees and the steps you are taking to protect customers.
Talk to Vendors
Small business owners might need to ask their vendors for a little help. Maybe you will need an extension on a payment deadline. You might also need to talk about pricing. Explain to your vendors that a lower price would help you keep your business going during the crisis and that you would be willing to go back to the normal pricing when things return to normal.
Even if you have a plan for the current outlook, you need to be ready if things take a sudden turn for the worst. What will happen if school closures and stay-at-home orders go on longer than expected? What if one of your biggest clients goes out of business? What if you have to dramatically cut payroll to keep the business going? You don’t want these major events to come up without a plan in place.
With your customers spending less, you may need to look into alternative sources of cash to maintain your operation. If business is still going well, you should try to put more money aside for an emergency. You should also talk to your credit card companies to see if you can extend your credit or to ask if they have a relief policy in response to the Coronavirus crisis.
In some cases, the best defense is a good offense. If your products, services or business model could be shifted to help people address problems related to the current state of affairs, you could protect your business by aggressively chasing these opportunities. Get the leaders at your company together and work on ideas to respond in a way that could increase sales.
You might not have seen this disaster coming, but it is here and you have to deal with it. While the right answers might vary from one business to the next, the above-mentioned tips can put your small business in a better position to survive the current crisis.
Featured image shows a COVID-19 Coronavirus sign. Image courtesy Pexels.