Anonymous 4m 1,054 #covid19
The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
COVID-19 is impacting businesses of all sizes all across the globe right now. Even large corporations are noticing a change in their day to day operations. Small businesses are really feeling the pinch, and are having to innovate new ways to operate and new ways to attract customers in an entirely new economic world.
This guide will help give you some ideas of how you and your company can move forward. First, though, it’s important to recognize that your business is not the only one going through this, and it’s normal to feel like you were unprepared for these circumstances.
That’s important because it’s easier to give up if you feel like you are particularly vulnerable, ill-prepared, or alone. Your business is not alone in staring in the face of the COVID-19 dry spell. Now, let’s talk about how to get through it, and come out a stronger business on the other side.
Examine Where Your Finances Are Going:
This is one of the most important steps in any crisis, but it’s also an opportunity to learn to operate more efficiently anytime. Examine your books carefully. Think about different modes of operation. What options do you have for switching to bare-bones operation without sacrificing the quality of the goods and services you offer.
What kind of savings does bare-bones operation offer you?
What items can you potentially put off given the current crisis and your existing cash flow?
Is there anything you have been investing in more as a business luxury than a necessity?
Examine your burn rate. Right now, you’re likely experiencing a higher burn rate than you were a few months ago. That’s expected, but it’s important to talk to your accountants about what can be done, and what you can do to improve your burn rate.
Tools like this margin calculator can make it a lot easier to get these numbers, so don’t be afraid to use them.
Once you have a good sense of where you are financially right this moment, make a plan for moving forward with as few expenses as possible and as many financial opportunities as possible. Those two things need to be in balance. Accepting a slightly higher burn rate and greater risk for a similarly higher rate of cash flow and customer growth might be the right decision depending on your situation.
Consider Your Relief Resources:
Let’s face it. Businesses are having to look for financial resources and relief left and right, right now. The systems that are in place to help you get the money you need aren’t necessarily easy to work through, but it can be worth it.
Again, taking a moment aside, it’s understandable if you don’t want to be in a position to accept government aid, loans, or other relief programs. Many businesses, especially small businesses, pride themselves on being able to operate independently while still offering good payment and benefits packages.
But your pride as an entrepreneur shouldn’t be hit by accepting some assistance right now. A global pandemic isn’t a situation that a small business, or even a medium or a large business, can effectively plan for. This situation is like a natural disaster, except utterly unpredictable and there isn’t any specific insurance to cover it.
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Things like accepting a small business loan, contacting your leaseholder to see what your options might be, or applying for more direct relief assistance from state or federal governments. Things like the paycheck protection program and the disaster assistance loan program are a good place to start.
Look at Alternative Means of Operating Your Business:
Tightening your belt and looking for assistance is a great way to get started, but ideally, you should also be looking for new ways to operate your business. Many restaurants are already experimenting with things like offering curbside pickup, expanding their delivery business, and changing menus slightly to reflect changing supply and demand.
Other service-based businesses are also working on finding ways to bring their services to their customer instead of the other way around. Clever use of social media, utilizing work from home technologies and video conferencing are all possible ways to expand your business.
Of course, it’s not all about maintaining business. Right now, the visibility of your company is nearly as important as conversions. This is a great moment to start launching a social media campaign, releasing videos, and otherwise finding new ways to get eyes on your business.
Consider putting out additional content like blogs, YouTube videos, and community outreach posts. This type of content might not drive a lot of conversions right now, but it can help you start building back up once the crisis has passed.
Try to balance this time with your normal business activity. Building good PR relationships using social media now will serve you well anytime.
Build New Skills:
One important thing a lot of people are forgetting is that slow periods for your business are fantastic opportunities to upskill and learn new tricks of your trade. Not only do you have more time to work on your skills on your own, but there are have also been a plethora of online courses posted at discounted rates and even for free.
Taking the time to make the most of your stay at home through learning will leave you better prepared for when things get back to normal. You’ll also be in a better position to continue building your business through this dry spell.
COVID-19 is affecting life from top to bottom, so it’s no surprise that many businesses are finding themselves in a dry spell because of it. There are lots about this situation that is completely out of your control, and that can quickly make it feel like you don’t have any control.
But the truth is that you still have a lot of power and agency, and the decisions you’re making now can help steer your business out of trouble and back toward success.
More important than the specific actions you take is the knowledge that you can take action. When things look bad, remember that you still have options and act. COVID isn’t forever, and the things you do now will help your business see the other slide of this slump.