A 6-Point Small Business Survival Plan For Handling The Coronavirus
It’s safe to say that this current catastrophe is unlike any other faced by small business owners in the recent past, and it’s certainly intimidating trying to tackle all of the unique issues it presents. Regrettably, the predominant voice we hear hasn’t offered a lot of specific steps to take or advice on how to save our business, let along come out on top.
Below are 6 issues to address with detailed considerations and action items that might make the difference in being able to keep your doors open and calm your employees and customers.
1. Don’t panic, take care of yourself, and keep calm
This can be difficult especially when cash is running out, but remember to take care of yourself in a way that works for you- for instance, eat well, and try to get some exercise in. Taking care of yourself will help you to keep calm, which in turn will also mean keeping your staff calm, and ultimately, a healthier mindset for everyone to come up with innovative ideas to move forward.
If faced with some difficult decisions, take time to balance yourself and your mind before taking any drastic decisions. In what is a very dynamic and rapidly changing situation, sometimes taking a step back to reassess, asking for trusted opinions, and also keeping perspective will help. Things will get better, and you aren’t in this alone. Ask for emotional support where you can, and when you need it.
2. Marketing and sales
Make sure to communicate clearly and consistently with your customers. If you are open for business, make sure they know that and how to interact with your organization. Make it easy for them to purchase your product and services.
Use your social media presence to keep your customers up to date. If you typically don’t use social media, it may now be time to build one. Implement a newsletter or series of emails to your customers if you aren’t already doing so. Use it to communicate your ability to help customers and any changes to how you regularly provide them.
Be creative and find new opportunities to market and sell. Given the current conditions, what resonates with customers right now that you can provide? This is a good time to focus on your existing customers, provide excellent service, make sure you retain your important relationships and customers. Let any key relationships know you are still there and how you can be of service.
Finally, use marketing as a tool that you can use to increase sales once this pandemic is over.
3. Start Remote Work For Employees
Many small businesses are having employees work remotely for the first time. Make sure you set the expectations for those working remotely. Many business owners already operate on nights and weekends remotely, but your employees probably don’t.
Supply tasks to your employees to keep the business running and cash flow coming in. I doubt someone can work the usual 9-5 from home as there are too many distractions. Delegate small, achievable tasks and you they should be done.
Implement a work-from-home agreement in writing with your employees and have them sign it. Set-forth expectations and implement a procedure for a weekly productivity report to be completed each day and then summarized by the week (excel spreadsheet is what we use) so that employees are tracking their workloads, customer interaction, and projects. You can also include in this agreement terms for reduction in pay if necessary based on productively or sales.
4. Debt Relief Fund
The government has created a fund called the Debt Relief Fund and currently sitting at R500 million is set to increase soon by the donations of the Oppenheimer and Rupert families.
According to Mokwebo, the purpose of the Debt Relief Fund is strictly is to assist small businesses that are experiencing financial challenges as a result of Covid-19.
“So, the Debt Relief Fund is not to assist businesses that have been experiencing financial challenges prior to Covid-19 [pandemic],” Mokwebo says. She says that this fund is not available to assist small businesses that were already in financial stress for different reason prior to the outbreak of the pandemic in the country. “So, the Debt Relief Fund is not to assist businesses that have been experiencing [financial] challenges owing to different reasons”.
To access the fund, businesses are required to register on the SMME South Africa platform. It requires applicants to fill in the details of their shareholder/s as well as their employee demographics and whether or not they require financial assistance or non-financial assistance.
businesses wanting to apply for funding assistance need to meet the following criteria:
- They must be 100% owned by South African citizens
- They should employ at least 70% SA nationals
- They must be registered with the South African Revenue Service (Sars) and tax-compliance.
Note: Priority will be given to businesses owned by females, the youth and persons with disabilities. Also, be smart with this loan as it is payed back with a high interest rate.
5. Up skill your staff
Wherever possible, try your best to keep your staff– they rely on you, and if you have managed a good team, they should be supporting you. You could train your existing staff on additional skills, which could make them more productive and efficient, rather than hiring more staff.
There’s plenty of online courses that are very affordable, and these will allow them to focus on other areas of the business when their department is down- for instance, your sales team could perhaps also help out the marketing team. There are lots of course sites like Udemy and informative blogs like ours to up skill your staff and come out of with a few new tricks up your sleeve.
6. Be charitable, show humanity and note what you are learning from this.
We are all learning a lot about how we could have better prepared for this disaster. Use this time as a wakeup call and learn from this experience. Start taking notes and don’t return to the status quo when this is all over.
Have a financial reserve or savings account for your business that could help in times of need or disaster.
Have a personal financial reserve of a few months of living costs.
Build a small food storage at the least. Maybe a few months’ worth of household goods, such as toilet paper, soap, feminine products, laundry soap, etc. Do your best with the resources and space you may have.
Consider new revenue sources and small diversifying your business.
Finally, try to serve and help those in your community. The more you help others worse off than you, the better you’ll feel.
At Vawda Marketing, we believe you can outsmart, rather than outspend, the competition. We’re your marketing department without the overload on your busy shoulders.
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There’s no doubt that small businesses will be the hardest hit from the current COVID-19 pandemic. The bigger businesses have a better chance of surviving; however, small businesses tend to live only with a few months of cash flow (at most), so when something as significant as this hits, it can be devastating not only for the small business owner, but also for the employees they support.
So, how can small businesses survive the turbulent times coming ahead in 2020? There’s no easy answer; however, here are a few points to start implementing and planning at least for the next three months.