10 Issues Small Business Need to Address During the Coronavirus Outbreak
The current world health crisis is unlike anything we’ve seen in recent decades. Until we can get our grasp on this invisible enemy, many small businesses across the country have been asked to temporarily shut down. Though this will have a very positive effect on the overall outcome of the coronavirus, the lack of income puts many small businesses at financial risk.
Since this pandemic is so new to much of the world, everyone is still figuring out how to take control of the situation. With that said, the following isn’t necessarily a step-by-step guide to make sure you’re financially secure. Rather, it’s a list of issues you may or may not be facing due to your small business’s temporary closure.
We invite you to follow along as we take a deeper look into these issues and what you can do to address them.
1.) IMMEDIATE PAYMENTS
A few weeks ago, when this pandemic began, one of the biggest concerns most people in this country had was how their bills were going to be paid. Though we have more of a grasp on the situation of this virus, there’s still a lot of uncertainty as to when the country will open back up.
With that said, it’s important you consider the bills that need to be paid within the coming weeks and months. Furthermore, it’s vital you consider how you’re going to pay them. There are a number of different ways you can do this, including:
Make sure your cash-flow can supply the income necessary for paying your bills. This may mean you need to develop a list of what’s essential to keep your business afloat. These essentials should be a top priority when it comes to payment.
Consider any costs you’ve been making that aren’t producing revenue. With that, cut these costs and keep security over what does bring in revenue.
Temporarily lay off employees. We know this doesn’t sound ideal, but by doing so, you’ll be able to save some of your money for the sake of making necessary payments. Keep in mind, your employees are one of your top assets and a layoff shouldn’t be taken lightly on your account. Reassure your employees that they will remain to have a spot in your company once this all blows over.
Continue to try to make sales, possibly online (we’ll discuss this more as we carry on with the article).
Consider pulling out from your resources or loans (again, we’ll discuss this more later in the article).
2.) HAVE YOU PAID YOUR TAXES?
If you’ve already paid your taxes this season, then this isn’t an issue that concerns you. However, we understand a lot of small business owners out there were holding off on paying - possibly, in hopes of bringing in enough income throughout these months.
Luckily, taxpayers are getting a break due to this pandemic. Currently, there is a tax payment extension of 90 days which means you won’t have to pay a dime until July 15th. Still, you MUST file your taxes by April 15th. You are at risk of penalties if you don’t file.
3.) CONSIDER PULLING OUT A DISASTER LOAN
If you aren’t aware, the Federal government is allowing small business owners to pull out loans of up to $2 million that can be paid for over the course of 30 years with low-interest rates (some as low as 3.75%). As a business owner, it’s ultimately up to you to decide what to do with these small loans - however, many have already taken advantage of this and used the extra money for business debts, offering their employees payroll, and continuing business operations.
The only difficulty with a disaster loan is it can take anywhere from two to three weeks before you receive the money. Therefore, this isn’t a quick and easy fix to make sure your business stays afloat. Rather, it’s a potential solution for those desperately in need of it.
Keep in mind, though these loans are made solely for the sake of disasters such as the coronavirus, it remains a loan that must be paid for. It’s important for you to consider whether or not your business 1.) really needs this loan and 2.) was struggling to get by prior to this pandemic.
The truth is, for some business owners, it may be safer to simply close your company down until we can get ahold of this virus.
4.) MAKE SURE TO FOLLOW CDC GUIDELINES
If your business is still operating, it’s important you make sure you’re following the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) guidelines. It’s no secret most customers are in a nervous state as this pandemic sweeps the nation and, with that, many are keeping a careful eye on what they do along with what people do around them.
The CDC continues to release specific guidelines on how people should conduct themselves in order to reduce the spread of the virus. With that said, it’s in your best interest to make sure you and your employees are following these guidelines.
This includes making sure your workers remain at a safe social distance throughout work (both with themselves and customers), your work environment remains clean, and everyone practices regular handwashing. It’s also important to be more flexible when it comes to sick leave.
5.) KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON
If you are a business owner, then you already know your team looks up to you in hard situations. The coronavirus pandemic is nothing short of what may be the most difficult wave you have to overcome. Most people in this country are in that situation and, with that, there’s a lot of anxiety.
As a leader, it’s vital you remain calm as you continue to operate your business. Of course, we understand this is easier said in words than it is in practice. However, by keeping it together, you’re setting the tone for the work environment of your business as this virus continues to spread.
Consider what you can do now (for both yourself and your business) in order to maintain this state of mind. Keep in mind that things are constantly changing. Don’t plan for the future as next week may be different than this week. Allow the wave to pass and ride along with it.
We understand too that with this wave, you’re going to face a number of difficult decisions. In order to make these changes easier, you should consider the following:
Be transparent about your sick leave policy. Make sure employees understand that they should not come into work if they are feeling ill.
Make sure your employees feel safe under your leadership. Beyond the health crisis, there is also a financial crisis that has left many people worried they’ll lose their jobs.
Be willing to change the decisions you made previously. Again, this is a day-by-day challenge we are facing. Solutions you found last week may not work this week.
Do not hire new employees until we get a grasp on this pandemic. The only exception we can make is for candidates you were highly interested in prior to this health crisis. For these people, make sure you continue communication and remain transparent.
If you need to cut employees due to costs, consider making a talent assessment. Consider those who you believe are valuable and how your business may change if a particular individual isn’t working there tomorrow.
We know these decisions aren’t easy and it’s even more difficult to make them while remaining calm and collected. However, we promise this is only a temporary matter and, therefore, these difficult decisions will come to past.
6.) KEEP CUSTOMERS UP-TO-DATE
Now that we are a few weeks into this pandemic, your customers most likely have a general idea of whether or not your business is operating. However, even if you aren’t in operation at this time, it’s important to continue updating customers on your situation.
Social media is a great tool for this. Maybe you haven’t used social media in the past and now’s the time to start your platform. With this, you can also begin using newsletter (a series of emails) to inform your customers on what’s going on.
In a time like this, communication is key. Everyone is looking for answers, no matter how big or small. Though we’re all curious as to when this will all be over, many of us are also curious as to how our favorite businesses are doing during this time.
Don’t be afraid to get creative with your marketing throughout this pandemic. We’re all in a similar condition and this can be a great way to reverberate with customers.
It may benefit you to also consider whether or not it’s possible to deliver your product or service directly to customers - whether through the mail or virtually through the internet. Keep in mind, a lot of people are financially struggling and discounts are a great way to keep customers interested.
7.) CONSIDER WHAT YOU’VE ALWAYS WANTED TO DO
If your business is slow, you have a great opportunity on your hands that you may be overlooking. We’re sure you’ve had some projects you’ve wanted to tackle or improvements you’ve wanted to make to your products and services. Well, why not make the use of this extra time!
Since this is such a personal matter, we won’t dive too much into the importance of this free time. Many individuals are taking it to explore their own personal interests that they’ve put off for so long. There’s no reason you and your team can’t make use of it as well.
8.) ALLOW YOUR EMPLOYEES TO WORK REMOTELY
A number of small businesses have already incorporated remote work for their employees. You may have as well. But if you’re still having employees come down to your location for work they could easily do over the internet, why not consider having them work from home?
If you’re a business owner, chances are you’re always on the clock - even when you’re supposed to be at home relaxing. Though employees may not be used to such conditions, it may be extremely necessary for them to become adjusted. Most notably, in order to slow the spread of the virus and keep people safe.
Keep in mind, there are a number of ways you can continue to interact with your employees while everyone is stuck in their homes. These include Gmail, Outlook 365, and Salesforce - just to name a few.
Start doing a bit of research on the internet tools you have at hand in order to keep everyone connected. Many of these platforms are offering discounts to help small business owners during this difficult time.
9.) CONSIDER YOUR 2020 STRATEGIC PLAN
Again, if your business is slow, this is a great time to consider areas in which your business can improve. Many business owners do these annually through a strategic plan. If you haven’t yet developed a strategic plan for 2020, now may be your time to do so.
Of course, considering the condition of this pandemic, it’s going to be difficult to make plans for the coming months. Furthermore, some of the plans you do make may need to be inevitably changed due to the pandemic. Still, that’s not to say you can’t plan for the future.
Once we get our grasp on this virus, many small business owners are going to come out of it with a proper strategic plan. Don’t let yourself be left behind - especially if you currently have a lot of free time.
10.) LET YOUR WORK ETHIC SHINE
Many businesses have shown that they want to help people during this time. You may have seen examples in the news of local breweries developing hand-sanitizers or companies like Ford developing ventilators for hospitals.
What can your business do in order to help your community? It’s a big question to ask, but the truth is, it can change the way people look at your business. People are in a state of panic right now. By providing acts of charity through your small business, you are helping to ease this panic. You’re helping to bring everyone’s state of mind back to homeostasis.
The more you can help those around you, the better off you and the community as a whole will be. Consider how your small business can help and don’t be afraid to take those steps.
Written by: Paul James