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- COVID-19 Continues: Here’s How Small Businesses Owners Can Respond
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect entrepreneurs across America, there are strategies a business owner can put in place to rebuild or stabilize operations. Success won’t necessarily be measured in terms of profit and loss but in how you pivot heading into the new year. Here are ways you can respond to the current COVID landscape.
Get back to basics
Entrepreneurs by definition are hard-working, creative, and tenacious. Think about why you went down the small business ownership path and revisit your goals. It’s a good idea to take a look at your original business plan with fresh eyes.
Your business plan serves two primary purposes. First, it acts as an organized roadmap to help you analyze your plans for marketing, sales, production, distribution, etc. Secondly, the reason many entrepreneurs put together a plan-seeking funding from a bank, credit union, or other type of lender. Some financial institutions or other lenders will not invest in your company unless you present a business plan that demonstrates your steps to success. (Note: Banks in the SmartBiz Loans network do not require a business plan to process a loan application.)
Consumer shopping online is exploding and social media is more important than ever to reach your current and potential customers. Clarify your options and identify the best path to success. Include a detailed plan of how you see your business adjusting post-pandemic, laying out scenarios specific to your business and overall industry.
Overhaul your marketing efforts
If you don’t have a solid, strategic plan in place for social media outreach, now is the time to go for it. First, make sure you can be found. Update your listing on Yelp and other search and review platforms, refresh your website, and take a look at your social media channels.
For more in-depth information, review this article from the SmartBiz Small Business Blog: Small Business Marketing Strategies During COVID-19. Strategies include closely monitoring the news, taking advantage of special programs for small businesses, and assessing your budget.
Explore new products or services
As part of your rebuilding strategy, you may want to consider exploring additional revenue opportunities through new product development. If you intend to invest in new product development, you should start by identifying a need in the market that you could solve with the help of your new product or service. For additional information, read Market Expansion Strategy: What You Need To Know.
During an uncertain times like 2020, transparency in business decisions can build trust with your employees that can last well after the crisis is over. Trust is the basis of working relationships between employees and employers and is crucial to success. Additionally, open, honest, and accurate information can help ease anxiety and retain customers who support your business. For more ways to handle consumer and employee communication, review Small Business Communication To Ease Anxiety in Times of Crisis.
Focus on the customer
Customer communication can include social media posts, blog articles, newsletters, or website messaging. Be honest about the crisis your business is facing. Failure to address a high-profile problem to your customers or clients can be off-putting. Make sure you have strategies and systems in place to respond if customers have questions. You might even get actionable suggestions that can help. Being responsive gives validation to others that they are important.
Pay attention to your employees' mental health
Coronavirus isn't just harmful from a physical and economic standpoint. The isolation that comes with mandatory quarantine can be just as harmful to mental well-being. If you have employees who are self-isolating or sheltering in place during the pandemic, it's imperative that you establish a framework for keeping in regular contact with them.
Regular video conferences and check-ins are a good start, but you might also consider finding virtual activities that you and your employees can participate in together. These might include digital concerts, movie nights, or even a video game you all have in common. Providing everyone with the opportunity to have regular human contact, even if it's through a computer screen, can go a long way towards staving off loneliness.
Keep employees safe
Prepare for reopening during or after the coronavirus shutdown by creating a plan that will allow everyone to continue working as safely as possible. Use the current resources available on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s website. Review and update these plans as necessary and take the proper steps to ensure that every employee is aware of the measures you’re taking to avoid any coronavirus (or flu) outbreaks. Being prepared cuts down the risk to employees. Coronavirus FAQs can be found on the CDC website.
Have a plan
See how the U.S. states are opening, or reclosing in this October 23rd feature from the New York Times. Search your state and help formulate your strategies for responsible business survival.