How to plan for Coronavirus (COVID 19) is the top concern on everyone’s mind right now. Understanding strategies to plan for and mitigate its impact on your small business is essential, as warnings of economic troubles (and even recession) loom. Here’s a quick guide to begin preparing your business to weather the pandemic.
Practice Coronavirus Prevention
Observing best practices for Coronavirus prevention will help protect your employees, customers, and the larger community. Follow the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control for businesses, which are constantly being updated. Encourage hygiene best practices such as regular hand-washing and provide hand sanitizer for employees. Plan on taking additional time to clean and disinfect, and actively encourage ill employees to stay home.
Plan Ahead for a Temporary Closure
It’s vital that you evaluate what steps you’ll need to take if you have to close, even for a short time. You may have to close if you get ill, employees call out, or if you’re mandated to close by law. Having a contingency plan in place can help. For example, how will you pay your employees? Can some or all of your services be offered remotely? What methods will you use to communicate with customers about your closure, availability, and reopening? Think through different scenarios and determine now how you’ll handle finances, support customers, and communicate with employees.
Touch Base With Your Customers
In uncertain times, people need leadership. Clear communication helps build trust and strong relationships. Take a moment to communicate with your customers about how COVID-19 is impacting your business. For example, are you offering support online or will you have an employee monitoring social media for customer requests? Touch base with your customers now: Tell them how your business is doing, the steps you’re taking to serve them, and your vision for the future. Remember that being a positive force during a difficult time can help build positive brand associations and foster long-term customer loyalty.
Find Ways to Continue Serving Customers
The steps that states are being forced to take to support Coronavirus prevention involve social distancing — and that can mean closing your business or changing how you interact with customers. Can you provide an alternate solution to in-person meetings? Gyms and fitness trainers are streaming classes, developing workout plans for people stuck at home and even developing nutrition plans based on the ingredients people have on hand. Technology companies are expanding their online, phone and video support. Get creative with ways to offer your customers extra options and support during this difficult time. Not only can it help you keep your financials in a healthy place, but it’s a great way to make a positive impact.
Create a Financial Contingency Plan
One of the biggest unknowns is what long-term impact the Coronavirus pandemic will have on your business’s financial situation. However, putting a business contingency plan in place now can help you navigate whatever comes up. Start by assessing your current financial situation, including savings, accounts receivable, liabilities and ongoing expenses.
Once you understand your current financial picture, consider two things:
Expenses – Determine whether you have expenses that can be lowered. For example, are you paying for a service you don’t really use? Now is a great time to get a handle on your spending.
Cash flow status – If you’re concerned about a drop in business or even longer horizons on accounts receivable, a small business loan or a line of credit might be the solution to help meet your business’s changing needs.
We’re all learning how to plan for Coronavirus and how to handle its impact on our lives. Luckily, there are Coronavirus prevention steps you can take as a small business owner to protect the long-term health of your business, like developing new solutions and finding ways to support customers. Take the time today to think through these steps and you’ll have the framework of a plan that lets you take action in the days and weeks to come.