There is no doubt that small businesses are being hit the hardest during this unprecedented pandemic. As local and state governments issued stay-at-home orders as well as mandated many businesses to temporarily shut down their brick and mortar locations, it was a frightening time for all business owners. Now that the businesses are opening back up things are still in flux. People’s behaviors have changed and many are still choosing to stay home instead of venturing out. These can be scary times for many small business owners. However, there are ways your small business can not only survive COVID, but also thrive in this “new normal” environment.
Take Care of Yourself First
Yes, I know that sounds all new-age and feel good, but this is very important. Take care of yourself first. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep. This will help keep your mind focused and alert. Do not stop partaking of your favorite hobbies if possible, and/or find new ones to offer relaxation. Maintain a regular routine of sleep, work, and relaxation. Keep yourself safe but try not to obsess. Humans are incredibly adaptable creatures. Remind yourself as often as necessary that you will get through this.
Take Advantage of Government Assistance
Entrepreneurs as a rule tend to be very independent people who like the ability to handle problems on their own and take care of themselves without assistance. But being a good business owner also requires not being afraid to accept that you might need some help sometimes. Making good decisions, even if that is asking for help, is vital during times of crisis.
The Small Business Association (SBA) currently has several programs to help small businesses from small forgivable grants (you don’t pay back) to loans (some partially forgivable) and advice. Many of these programs are being offered not only to businesses with employees, but also to single employee/sole proprietorships.
In addition to the SBA, look out for news from your city, county, local chamber of commerce, and other organizations. In these unprecedented times, many of these organizations are offering grants to small businesses that have been impacted by COVID.
Plan Out a Three-Month and Six-Month Plan
All small businesses have key expenses including salaries, rent, and utility bills. Do not be afraid to reach out to your landlord and suppliers about what programs or help they might be willing to provide you over the next three to six months. You might be surprised at how willing they are to work with you. Many businesses, such as landlords, have already put options in place to deal with their own slowdown. Ultimately, a good landlord or supplier wants you to succeed because your success ensures their success.
Also, take a hard look at your own personal finances as you may need to help financially support your business during this time with your own funds. Have a frank discussion with your family about changes that might need to be made.
Look for opportunities to make your business better. This might be a good time to have a conversation with your accountant to get advice on financing, ways to save money, and how to streamline your finances. If you currently do not have a accounting team, there are numerous firms that can work with you online without face-to-face contact. Accounovation is one of them and we are happy to help.
Think Outside the Box When Looking for Opportunities
Be flexible! We are living in a “new normal” and to survive, adaptation is imperative. Try to think of new services and/or avenues in which you can take care of your clients and customers.
There is a restaurant here in Dallas that is a great example of this. When the shelter-in-place orders and mandatory in-dining orders came down, they immediately changed their business model. Since dining in was no longer allowed, they started offering meal-kit boxes including all of the ingredients to make some of their signature dishes. They even threw in some fun extras like toilet paper, milk, and butter. You were even able to purchase cocktail kits from them!
During the first month of the pandemic, they sold out almost daily with lines of cars weaving throughout the parking lots of their various locations. The “servers” would bring your meal kit to your car and put it in your backseat or trunk. You paid for your items online so there was no personal contact. They have thrived during this time, and they built up tremendous goodwill with the community.
Since then, other businesses have taken up this model, but it was surprising to see how long it took them to do this. This quick thinking and adaptable company benefited immensely by thinking outside of the box and implementing those changes quickly, as well as providing a bit of fun to having to stay at home. They have ensured their survival based on this and the positive goodwill they generated.
While the situation has now changed and these businesses have now opened, some have realized that they can add additional services that may be more profitable in the long term. These stressful times can be a great avenue to spark new ideas that can stay with your business long term. Don’t be afraid of the change, embrace it!
Keep Your Brand Alive
Even if you are not able to have your brick and mortar location open, or if you are not able to see clients and customers face-to-face, there are alternatives to keeping your brand alive. Make sure you maintain an active account on social media, (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter), to ensure your community knows about what services are available. Provide them with information through blogs and postings. Keep your name in front of your audience.
One thing to emphasize during this time is to focus more on community and empathy in your messages and avoid hard sells. Let people know how you are helping the community and how you can help them. People are feeling very fragile right now, and kindness will take your business further than hard-selling your product.
In summary, these are unprecedented times. The ability to stay positive, flexible, open-minded, and willing to be creative and look for opportunities outside of the box will help keep your business afloat.
Accounovation is a technology-driven, process-focused, and people-powered accounting firm. We are highly skilled and are ready and willing to help you ensure success in your business during these stressful times. Please feel free to contact us for more information.