Coronavirus (COVID-19) has emerged as such as a global pandemic that the most people currently living on this planet haven’t experienced in their lifetimes, and probably never will again. Around the globe, this pandemic has affected many lives; many major markets are closed, all the major world economies are suffering, along with the common public.
Almost all the major countries of the world, at one time or another, had announced a nationwide lockdown. But to ease the effect, many countries have also tried to provide some relief to businesses. But they could not cover every big and small business.
A research has stated that the companies that have the employee number somewhere around 1-100, will suffer the most. As most helping plans the governments will launch will cater to big businesses as they affect the economy directly.
We have compiled a list of measures that could be taken by small business owners to minimize the impact of this difficult time.
1. Pick up the phone and speak to your customers
Most small businesses thrives on building new customer base. But this time, your current customers are your most important assets. In the economic slowdown, they might look for options to halt their requirements that directly concerns you. So, in order to assure that doesn’t happen, you need to pick up a phone and speak to them directly. If possible, also provide them some offer or discount if you have to that might relieve them a bit. Remember, personal touch is always appreciated and once this lockdown period is over, your current customer base might just be the ‘tonic’ you need to survive and grow.
2. Focus on collections & outstanding payments
Big organizations usually thrive on credit lines and capital finances, but not small businesses. Just get in touch with your clients and make sure that there is no delay in any of your payments. In case a client delays the payment, consider this as a red flag and take the bold decision of halting your business transactions with them. If possible, only rely on the transactions where the chances of payment delays in minimal.
3. Ensure health, safety & well-being of your staff members
In the lockdown, keep in touch with your staff members as they are your biggest assets in these troubling times. Keep following up on the well being of them and their family members and encourage them to keep working to get things rolling. Also, make sure that they are facing no troubles while working from home, as in they have proper internet connection, laptop and online collaboration tools such as paid platforms for online meetings and conferences. Make sure that all your employees feel comfortable working in the new environment as they usually are no used to working like this.
4. Avoid harsh measures
Your employee might already be facing a lot of mental stress and you must take care of the way you handle them. Pay them on time, talk softly to them, joke around if possible, keep asking for their well-being and whether they need any help. In other words, you have to constantly make them feel as if you are their friend. And never burden them with a lot of work, ask them to work as per their convenience. And in case one of your employees begin showing symptoms, ask them to quarantine themselves and that they should come back to work only after they feel perfectly fine. These small acts of kindness exhibit your concerns and leadership qualities.
5. Re-think about new business acquisitions
This might sound a little selfish, but this is the right time to build some goodwill for your brand name. Ever since this pandemic has exploded, it has put a great stress on the government and the healthcare system of the country. No country has been ready to deal with such a disastrous pandemic. What you can do is to help the healthcare system a little bit with your contribution. You can produce safety masks, sanitizers, test kits or probably donate some amount to some local hospital body. You can also distribute foods and other necessary items among the needy ones. You can also use your technological expertise to come up with an app or a website that might help either the authority or the public in some way. This can also a good addition to your revenue streams and could also give you a sense of accomplishment of having done something useful for the society.
6. Become part of COVID-19 fighting economy
This is a very troubling time for everyone, from a common man to the CEO of probably the biggest company in the country. This is not exactly the right time to make new business plans, or worse, acting on them. Discussing it, you might come across non-sensitive and selfish, which is not at all a good sign for the future prospect of your business. What you can do it utilize this idle time researching more and formulate further plans to grow your business. While doing so, you also need to go slow on the expenses that you might be making. Save some money and think about the ways your business could use to stand back on its feet, strongly and firmly than ever.
7. Dip into your own savings and keep it ready to stay afloat
From the looks of it, it seems like this covid-19 pandemic is here to stay longer that we all thought. Nobody knows for how long will things be like this, and hence, there is a big chance that your business might suffer some major setbacks financially. In such a situation, never hesitate to dip into your personal savings to keep your business running. Like we mentioned in the above points, keep your expenses as low as you can and everything will be alright. But just in case it doesn’t, just go ahead and utilize your personal savings for the sake of your business that has helped you make those savings.
Keeping above tips in mind, you can atleast try to keep your business losses to a bare minimum. For now, all we can do is hope that this difficult period ends soon and the world comes back to normalcy.
We all need to consider this a warning from the Mother Nature that things that we humans are doing are not probably alright. We need to take this as a test and should never be selfish. Sense of community must always be there, because Karma is so real. If you are good to others around you, the universe will pay you back tenfold.
Small businesses need to be aware, efficient and self-reliant during such times. COVID-19 is an unprecedented crisis, and it has thrown the world’s smartest and most powerful governments, scientists and healthcare industry and regulators in a total tizzy. And everybody seems to be trying everything from science (new drug announced by US President) to spiritual (utensil-based noise for 5 minutes by Indian PM) to force (Russian PM’s arrest warning) for solving the crisis.
Stay Safe, Stay Healthy and Best Of Luck!