Luke Hayward writes for the Funding Circle, a peer-to-peer lending marketplace that allows the public to lend money directly to small- and medium-sized businesses. He contributes today’s guest post on a reopening checklist for small business owners and startups during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Small business owners are no stranger to uncertainty, flexibility, and creativity. The nature of an entrepreneur is to look for ways to handle issues that arise and grow a business. Unfortunately, COVID-19 is a different sort of uncertainty. The unmatched difficulties surrounding the current pandemic left many small business owners and startup founders helpless as many had to close their doors for nearly three months.
With states reopening their businesses at various rates and with different regulations, it’s time to get ready for a post-COVID small business climate. What does that mean exactly?
Well, it means making sure you have things like employee and public safety in mind, cleaning measures clearly established, and CDC guidelines in mind. Here’s a small business reopening checklist that hopefully helps make the process a bit smoother.
How do I Reopen in the Middle of a Pandemic?
It’s important to remember this is uncharted territory for small business owners and, really, everyone. The best approach seems to be careful planning and adherence to CDC guidelines that aim to keep everyone safe.
On top of caring for your employees, consumers want their local businesses to provide them with a sense of assurance and security. For some essential COVID-19 business advice, check out these tips for reopening your business.
Rethink Your Workspace and Layout
The way you have your office or storefront organized might not work with the new social distancing guidelines. For the safety of your employees and customers, it might be best to change the layout of your business for social distancing. For brick and mortar retail stores, this might mean physical changes like expanding aisle spaces or changing where customers wait to pay. For office spaces, it might be ideal to spread employee workstations out further from one another.
Rethinking your business also goes beyond physical layouts. Physical distancing is recommended to accompany new policies for public and employee use of spaces.
Bathrooms are a great example of something you need to rethink for the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s recommended that you only allow one person in the bathroom at a time. These practices help reduce transmission for employees and customers in a meaningful way.
Display, Explain Your Sanitary and Protective Practices
Two things are certain in this current COVID-19 pandemic. Firstly, washing your hands is the first line of defense for avoiding the Coronavirus. Keeping your hands clean, in addition to enhanced sanitary practices, help to reduce the spread of anyone who might be infected.
The other certainty is displaying signage to make sure everyone knows the expectations of the business. Small businesses are relying on the return of customers to stay open. The data from surveys show that customers will only feel comfortable returning to retail stores and businesses if they can see that safety measures are in place and visible.
Signs should explain details such as asking customers to wear masks inside the business space, how to line up and maintain distance for checkout, and no-contact checkout practices.
New safety and sanitary practices should include regular cleaning of doorknobs and surfaces, displays and shelves, Point of Sale spaces like cash registers and checkout areas, and other spaces where people might be coming into contact with surfaces. If you provide hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes for customers, display those prominently with a sign letting people know it’s for the public to use.
Follow Personal Protective Equipment Guidelines
The CDC is recommending that all people who are medically able to do so wear a face mask as a form of personal protective equipment (PPE). Small businesses should adhere to state guidelines on this measure. Doing so also communicates your goal of keeping employees and customers safe.
Cloth coverings or face masks help to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The CDC recommends wearing one when you cannot maintain six feet apart from other people. Employees should wear masks while at work at your business. Many employers are choosing to supply PPE to employees.
Check out local mask supplies if you are in need of PPE for your employees. In San Antonio, small businesses and nonprofit organizations can get free supplies from the City of San Antonio as they prepare to reopen. The safety kit includes one contact-free thermometer, two gallons of hand sanitizer, and face masks. Register for the free kits on a first-come, first-served basis online or by calling 311 between 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Businesses or organizations will receive a 10-digit code used to pick up supplies.
Reopening to a New Normal
These practices might seem hard to believe at first, but they will become the new normal as COVID-19 continues to threaten public health. Make sure to utilize this small business reopening checklist to keep your employees and customers safe upon reopening.
Featured image is of a shop’s ‘Open’ sign, photo source: Pexels.