Covid-19 has changed the business landscape incredibly within the last two weeks.
Like this pandemic, businesses are having to adapt quickly on the fly. Learning to adapt rather than learning to cope is the key to staying successful. Every business is having to adjust in some way. Some businesses are thriving and can barely keep up, some are having to change the way they operate, some are operating at minimal capacity, and some are having to close. This is a very real situation that no one could have foreseen even just a month ago. So what can you do to minimize the negative impact on your business in the long-run? Here are some of the key fundamentals to look at, if you haven’t already.
1. Government Programs
Review all the government programs that are being announced almost daily. Do your own research, ask questions, and decide if there is one that will benefit you the most. If you are forced to close, there are programs for your employees, for you, and your company. Don’t wait, you want to be proactive, learn about all available programs, then proceed with what you’ve determined is best for you, your company, and your employees.
2. Protect your cash flow as much as you can
Even being able complete a little business is better than having to close, if possible. If you are forced to close, research alternative ways to operate your business, or find a source of revenue you could convert to on-line sales, local delivery, pickup, working from home, or even outside work. What are some ways businesses can get through this unforeseen time? If there is one thing I know for sure, business owners are very resilient, creative, and adaptive. They are doing what they have to do and more in order to ensure their business work despite these unpredictable and unprecedented times.
Be creative with how you can keep your business active. Retailers are adding duct tape to their flooring to ensure customers are spaced 6 feet apart in line-ups. They are limiting the number of customers in their building at one given time. Services are transitioning workers to laptops and allowing them to work from home. No matter what, learning to be creative while finding a solution to new work standards is key. What work can you continue, even if you’ve closed your doors? I’ve seen some great examples of creativity, including yoga studios giving on-line classes, client meetings done virtually, entire Rotary meetings still meeting virtually, restaurants adapting to take-out only, and retail businesses who can’t stay open are still offering free local delivery. These are just a few of the great examples of businesses using creative alternatives.
4. Learn to adapt
Language is important, and not just coping but adapting to all the changes that are coming at business owners is key. We know business owners are resilient and thus, they are also able to adapt quickly to every new daily development. Within a week I have seen many offices close yet remain open for business as their team works remotely from home. I’ve seen professional offices set up front desks using distance protocols to enable clients to sign essential documents when needed. Doing whatever you can do to adapt such as social distancing, keeping revenue flowing, ensuring your team is working, all while keeping staff and clients safe is key.
Reduce as many expenses as you can in the short term. Most businesses already run on a shoestring, but if there are some ways to cut even more, now is the time if you can. Call your lender and/or your landlord to see if any of these expenses can be deferred, reduced, or negotiated differently. See what other payments you may be able to alter, reduce, or even defer where possible. Can you work with one less cell phone? Can you reduce auto expenses? Can you reduce those monthly subscriptions that add up? Ultimately, What expenses can you save?
6. Work with your team
One of the biggest stresses on an entire company is what the future holds for the team and the company as a whole. Being compassionate, being transparent with your staff about your plans, and communicating regularly with your team will help everyone through this stressful time. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to keep the lines of communication open with your entire team, whether you need to layoff, reduce hours, have everyone work from home, or increase hours due to higher demand. Whatever your case may be, communicate, be understanding, and remember to thank them for everything they are doing.
7. Be proactive
Once you’ve had time to adapt, be proactive and look to the near future. Preview the next 3 months, and determine all the things you can do as an owner to minimize and mitigate long term loss of revenue and profits, and ultimately assist with cash flow. What contracts can you complete? What work can you continue? What contracts can you secure for the future? Even if your business is closed and not operating, you don’t have to stand by helplessly. Call some of your best clients and ask how they are doing, and if you can help in any way. I’m not talking about a sales call but a genuine call asking how they are. Call your suppliers to see how they are doing, and continue to be in touch so you can order anything you may need once business begins again.
8. Learn something new
If you are finding yourself either closed, with reduced hours, or with a lighter workload, take time for yourself and learn something new. Take an on-line course, listen to podcasts, or read a book. Learn something new that benefits you or your business. Owners don’t often get time to themselves, so even though this time off is not planned nor wanted, make the most of it.
9. Plan for the future
Finally, plan for when you re-open or when business gets back to usual (or as usual as it can be). What can you do to get your business back to where it was, or to continue better than ever? Now that you’ve made changes to your business that you never thought you would, what have you learned? What have you had to do that is positive? What will you keep? Look at your processes. What can you improve? What will you do differently? Is there an opportunity for a new revenue stream? Is there an opportunity for streamlining processes, continuing to reduce expenses, and improving overall operations? Use this time to plan so your company will be better than ever once things get back to what people are beginning to call “the new normal”.
As I said, business has changed drastically over the past 2 weeks. Doing what you can to minimize the impact on your business is key. Complete this checklist to ensure you are doing all you can to be prepared with a plan when all of us come out on the other side of this Covid-19 pandemic.