As a Business Owner, you are undoubtedly experiencing what most other businesses are experiencing: the feeling that the world is closing in. Each day can seem like a struggle when you’re trying to determine when the news will get better and how you might be able to keep your business operational.
Most businesses cannot prepare for a time like this because, let’s be honest, it is almost impossible to forecast the extreme scenario we are experiencing.
As we are currently in the beginning/middle stages of mandated business closures amid the COVID-19 crisis and the economic impact it is having, now, more-than-ever, it is important to take this time to develop a new plan of action for your business.
To that extent, many of you have posed the question: “What can I be doing for my business right now during this unprecedented economic downturn?”
Below are several suggestions for what business owners can be doing in preparation for a successful return:
REVIEW YOUR BUSINESS PLAN – Your Business Plan is your Bible. Generally, it is created when the business is in its initial development stage and is rarely referred to thereafter. If you have a few moments, now would be an excellent time to revisit this document and make alterations as necessary. Revising to reflect the change of the face of business may be something to strongly consider.
DEVELOP A SHORT-TERM RECOVERY GOAL – You need to ask yourself, “Is my business prepared for a substantial increase in transactions?” Previously, your business may have experienced slow, steady growth, and then, because of the economic crisis, a quick downturn. Once the spread of COVID-19 is under control, and people feel comfortable shopping again, it is believed a quick, substantial uptick in business, followed by a steadying will be the normal for most businesses. Be sure you are prepared from a customer service and inventory management vantage point. Customers will be so starved to have everyday life return to normal that the initial influx of business will be substantial – more than most businesses are used to experiencing.
REVIEW YOUR CURRENT EXPENSES – Now is the perfect time to evaluate your current expenses. When you’re busy, it’s hard to dedicate time to expenses. But it is important to consolidate as much of your unnecessary expenses as possible. Review Vendor Contracts and see where you can save by redoing the contracts or possibly eliminating them all together. In addition, it is also important to review vendors who create workflow efficiency so time can be dedicated to the more challenging aspects of your business. Finding this balance is going to be key to your continued success.
EVALUATE YOUR IT INFRASTRUCTURE – Do you and your employees have the capability of working from home? Is your technology current? These are important questions to ask yourself. If your business is closed because it is considered non-essential and you have the potential of working remotely, how will you be able to efficiently communicate with employees and other professionals if your technology is outdated? It may be time to examine this possibility, especially as business slows and you have time to prepare for the initial upsurge of business. If you are a Business Owner who is anticipating business resuming as normal, now would be the time to upgrade and implement your new technology.
CREATE A NEW CUSTOMER SERVICE APPROACH – What does the face of your customer look like? Are you prepared for a change when things get back to normal? Has your customer service approach always been optimal? Perhaps now is the time to consider a Voice of the Customer initiative or another type of customer-based initiative. Like you, customers are being forced to remain in their homes. This may give you a much better opportunity for interaction. Contacting them via Surveys and other methods for customer feedback may give insight into what is working for your business and what can be changed. Take the time to contact them and see where you can improve.
CREATE A DIGITAL PRESENCE – Based on these events, the age of a digital presence has become vital to the success of the business. It is reported that about 30% of Small Businesses do not have a website, which means the likelihood of their social media use decreases drastically. If you are a business who does not have a website or a social media presence, it is now imperative that you create one.
CREATE A PLAN TO GIVE BACK TO THE COMMUNITY – You community is going to build you back up and support you once the economy recovers. It is important that you support the community in the same way they support you. Creating a plan to become involved in your community by volunteering will be essential. A few hours a month volunteering for something you are passionate about doesn’t sound like a bad idea, does it?
EDUCATE – With the sudden increase of available time, you can use that time wisely by re-educating yourself and honing your craft or learning new approaches to your business. With a subscription to LinkedIn, you and your employees can access LinkedIn Learning. You can also access other educational material by contacting your organization’s governing body.
REVISIT YOUR EMPLOYEE HANDBOOK & EMPLOYEE BENEFITS – The Employee Handbook & Employee Benefits are going to have to be revised for the future. Employees are going to consider the current crisis and question your leave policy. They are going to consider the current crisis and question your health insurance policy. They are going consider the current crisis and want to know how you are going to protect them if an economic crisis like this happens again. It will be important for you to be able to address these concerns. The sooner you can have them referenced in your Employee Handbook, the easier it’ll be when these tough questions are posed by current and potential employees.
READ: Two Key Concepts I Learned by Observing My Father’s Small Business and How I Learned Business Skills through Real-Life Applications (An Introduction)
At the end of the day, the economy is going to survive. Many businesses will build themselves back up stronger than they were before. But, the struggle to get there is going to be arduous. Considering these steps is a great way to feel as though you’re not losing control because these are areas you can control. As a Business Owner, you have already shown resilience in fighting for your success and will continue to do so for years to come.
For now, we, at K-CORE Business Consulting, wish for you to be safe and to please take care of yourself, your families, and your employees.