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If you’re a small business owner during this time, you’re understandably concerned. With the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), we’ve seen the world change in just a short period of time; Purchasing has simultaneously increased and slowed down (depending on the business or product), people are staying home more, and priorities for people worldwide have shifted. While everyone is feeling the impact in their own way, small businesses across the board are definitely seeing and experiencing the change.
So, as a small business owner, what can you do to see your company and its employees through this potentially massive disruption?
That’s an important and nuanced question that demands attention from all of us at present. We are all certain to feel the effects of COVID-19. But, by remaining proactive, implementing the right steps, and supporting one another, we can work to keep all of our doors open.
We’re all in this together, and we want to do our part within the business community to help; So, we did some research. Below, we’ve gathered some action and steps currently being recommended for business owners to navigate their way through this crisis. We hope this helps.
Has your company planned out what to do in the case of a disaster? If not, now is a good time. Address things like employee travel, meeting schedules, cleaning policies, emergency contacts, work from home procedures, and “plan b” for when things go wrong in certain situations.
Most businesses pride themselves on keeping things neat, tidy, and organized; That being said, it’s best to double or triple what you’re doing already for the time being. Keep cleaning supplies easily accessible around the office or business location and wipe things down and sanitize often throughout the day. Surfaces that come into contact with customers should be paid special attention. By amping up your cleaning, you can help prevent you, your customers, and your employees from getting sick.
Non-essential travel should be minimal or not at all currently. By reducing business travel and resorting to video conferences, message, or phone communication, you and your employees can significantly reduce your chances of contracting or spreading COVID-19.
With the country locking things down that are essential to daily function, now’s the perfect time to exercise flexibility with employees. Schools, stores, daycares, and other businesses are closing or experiencing overwhelming volumes right now; Given the circumstances, expect possible employee absences, lateness, or other schedule and work modification requests.
Transparency is essential right now. If your company is facing a severe issue with the current crisis, being honest and upfront with your employees and customers can go a long way to building and maintaining relationships; Remember, we are all going through this together and should reach out and support one another.
Working remotely is one of the best things companies can offer their employees now. Check into remote working options and software that can help you and your employees conduct business and stay in touch with each other and customers.
To support the need for social distancing, non-essential in-person meetings should either be canceled or done via phone, video or chat conference. This can help everyone reduce the possibility of virus spread through your company and with customers and clients.
As business owners, we already think ahead most of the time; however, you’ll need to think a few steps further for the time being. Communicating with investors, suppliers, and other services you rely on and discussing their plans and situations can help you adjust your company and procedures as needed.
Save, save, save. If it’s not essential to purchase, don’t buy it right now. Because a loss of business is inevitable for most of us during this time, funds must be reserved as much as possible to keep things running.
Some business insurance policies have what’s called “business interruption insurance.” This insurance option can help cover financial losses due to significant events, disasters, or other problems.
Going ahead and speaking with your bank or creditors is a good idea. Ensuring you have a line of credit established or available can help you when problems arise.
The U.S. Government is working on making loans available to small businesses during this time to help. Check in with the Small Business Administration regularly so that your business can take advantage of resources as they’re made available.
Let's face it, downtime, hiccups and technical challenges are unavoidable in every business and they can be frustrating and downright costly.