The global COVID-19 crisis has devastated many businesses this year, mostly small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). It seems like an endless pit of financial uncertainty for companies, with many SMEs unfortunately not equipped to deal with this level of economic devastation.
If you are one of the struggling entrepreneurs during this pandemic, fear not, for there are strategies to ensure business continuity even at such an uncertain time.
How The New Normal Has Changed Consumer Habits
The pandemic has required the enforcement of community lockdowns to prevent the spread of the virus. This situation hasn’t been easy for everyone, including business owners who had to find ways to profit in other ways.
Patrons and potential clients can’t simply walk into stores like any normal business day, and consumers will think twice, thrice, or more before spending their hard-earned pay on non-essentials. After all, nothing is certain, even long-term jobs—belts have been tightened, leaving many to gasp for air, hoping for things to go back as they were pre-pandemic.
Lockdowns are not as tight right now, but the threat of the coronavirus still hangs heavy in the air, quite literally. That’s why masks and face shields are this year’s hottest essentials, along with 70% rubbing alcohol, disinfectants in different forms, and even UV lights.
Manufacturers have also become ingenious by making products like door openers or hooks to prevent direct contact with possibly-contaminated common surfaces. Nearly all individuals have become hypervigilant about the things they touch, the stuff they bring into their homes, how to sanitize items, and maintaining cleanliness.
Businesses are starting to open out of necessity and keep up with this global crisis’s demands. Aside from cutbacks, resources have to be channeled towards COVID-19 response measures to address sanitation protocol and social distancing measures. They are also cutting back losses by looking for innovative ways to deal with unprecedented complications brought by the virus.
In addition to this extra expense to deal with the current situation, companies are not as lucrative as they once were. A study on COVID-19’s impact on small businesses early this year projected that closures in the U.S. alone could lead to over 35.1 million job losses if the crisis lasts for six months, proving how devastating COVID-19 is to the financial health of the general populace.
Top survival tips for businesses to survive the COVID-19 crisis
As demand for goods and services—especially non-essential ones—is not as high, companies must find new ways to profit. What are some business survival tips that you can adopt to help keep your company afloat and protect your business finances in the time of corona?
1. Master the 3 Es: Educate, Equip, and Empower your workforce
The pandemic has put the spotlight on inefficiencies and changes that have to be made to address emerging health challenges. Creating your very own business continuity plan to outline your processes and systems should be done with the 3Es in motion:
a) Educating employees and customers on COVID-19 updates and protocols from legitimate sources through your communication channels
Businesses are urged now more than ever to be responsible for disseminating information among their employees and clients. Get regular updates from legitimate and trusted news outlets. Glean some practical, science-backed solutions from various resources, sorted according to key categories available on the World Health Organization (WHO) and Center for Disease Control (CDC) pages.
b) Equipping your physical offices or stores, as well as your employees, with the right platforms, infrastructure, and other customized resources to do work efficiently
This includes proper hygiene policies, visual cues, and a commitment to be well-stocked with hygiene products like soap, wipes, tissue paper, and 70% rubbing alcohol. Distributing hygiene kits to employees who report for work also ensures that everyone will have something to use for keeping clean, which is a top priority to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
c) Empowering your business by harnessing the power of various digital platforms available
Promote your business heavily on socials and various digital platforms to feature your offerings. If you are running an ecommerce store, you can even do the whole operation through mobile ecommerce!
2. Take care of your existing customer base
Your current clients are your lifeline. New sales will be more challenging to make, and your existing customers must be focused on at this point.
3. Communicate well and constantly with your teams
Resources for excellent crisis communications management are available. Substantiating policies or protocols with facts from trusted sources like the WHO, CDC, and the local government with your work teams ensures that everyone’s safety and well-being are the top priorities.
Checking in more often, perhaps daily instead of just once a week, is a great way to ascertain that your workforce is coping well. It doesn’t always have to be a grand or organized videocall. Checking in could be done with a short text or call or by shooting an email. This new system will allow your team to communicate and address issues as needed in these unpredictable times.
4. See if a remote set-up fits the nature of your business
Assess when and how you could implement remote work set-ups in the office. Try to find ways to incorporate remote or flexible work arrangements for employees. This kind of arrangement these days could mean the difference between life and death until a vaccine is distributed worldwide, so consider making the shift and set-up work for you.
5. Use digital tools to elevate workforce productivity
Even small businesses can get organized to a whole new level with an array of free productivity tools online, which also has paid versions for an extended range of features.
G Suite is a popular choice not just for SMEs but for big businesses, as well, because it saves on administrative costs. What’s more, people who have access to files can upload and download information in real-time.
TMetric Time tracker will allow companies to monitor employee tasks’ quantity and quality. Data like work hours, breaks, attendance, and absences are recorded, along with times spent on specific tasks.
Slack offers seamless exchange among teams within an organization. Primarily a messaging application, it is also a secure platform to search, filter, and share files. Exchanging ideas in real-time is made possible with Slack, so timely communication is maintained.
Survive and thrive even during this crisis
Your company can survive this pandemic. Right now, economies are doing better as businesses resume operations. We still do not know a lot about the disease, but companies are picking up on the right ways to deal with the situation.
Sticking to the 3Es, taking care of your existing clients, communicating well and constantly with your team, implementing work from home or flexible work arrangements, and maximizing the power of digital productivity tools and platforms will help your business thrive despite the ongoing crisis.