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Weathering This Storm...aka COVID-19

May 1, 2020

It is certainly no surprise to anyone nowadays that small businesses are struggling. Thanks to this pandemic (I am unaffectionately referring to as a STORM), businesses have been completely closed or operating at a fraction of their norms. And what's worse...there is no end in sight! Even as things begin reopening, we are months, maybe even years, away from our previous norms.

That said...for many small business owners and entrepreneurs, there is no PLAN B. They have poured their life savings into their businesses and have employees and their families depending on their success. Their communities are also dependent upon their success. To that I is not over til it's over! The "fat lady" has not sung...& you CAN weather this COVID-19 storm.

Here are 12 things you should be doing right now to save your business:

  1. Apply for all of the grants and loans open to you as needed to support your expenses not just for now, but for a minimum of the next 6 months. The programs now being made available by the government have super low interest rates and many can even be forgiven. There are also paycheck protection plans (PPP) that will enable you to hold on to your valuable employees. However, do not just rely on these programs. Interest rates overall are low. If you have a relationship with a bank or credit union, apply for other small business loans they offer as well. The interest rates may not be 1%, but they are lower than ever...and qualifications are relaxed more now than ever before. Also, if you have 401K funds tucked away from previous employment, you may now be able to borrow from those funds without the hefty penalties.

  2. Call all of your vendors and creditors for payment extensions. This includes landlords, mortgage lenders, insurance companies, banks, utilities, website hosts, etc. Most companies will work with you to help alleviate the immediate stresses of your bills while your income stream is interrupted.

  3. Take your business online. Whether you're offering a product or service...if you are not online, now is the time to go online. Online shopping is not only the is the present! You will need to be online in order to survive and also to compete in the current economy. If you do not have a website, or an e-commerce site, you can get one now very inexpensively, or sell on Amazon, eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Poshmark, Etsy, etc.

  4. Network! Now is the time to work with other local businesses and entrepreneurs to find ways to help one another. If you're a non-essential business, there may be essential businesses willing to add a few of your items to their stores. It will not only help you, but the right partnerships will be a win-win and also be a service to their customers in need of or looking to buy your product/service.

  5. Be of service to your customers and to your community in this time of crisis. Finding ways to help others will always find its way back to you in the end.

  6. Be creative...are there products or services, or extensions of your current products or services, you can offer that you may not be currently? Based on our new norms and new mandates and can you satisfy new needs & new demands for these changing times?

  7. Re-evaluate your expenses. Take a hard look at your finances and ensure you are spending the money you do have smartly. However, DO NOT...I repeat DO NOT cut out marketing expenses! Make sure you are spending your dollars wisely, but it is now more important than ever that you STAY IN FRONT OF YOUR CUSTOMERS! You cannot and should not assume your customers will all flock back to you once your business is open. Business will go to those who are fighting for it!

  8. Improve your internet presence. Make certain your business can be found online...& more importantly, lands on the 1st page in a basic search for your business category...esp. in your local area or areas you service. There are many ways to do this...most of them free or relatively inexpensive. And again...STAY IN FRONT OF YOUR CUSTOMERS! Also, keep them posted on what's going on with your business and your team.

  9. Evaluate your staff (& staffing needs). This is the perfect time to do so. Small business owners have a tendency to hold on to bad employees much longer than they should. If this is you...don't bring them back! Use your government PPP funds to replace bad employees with good ones that can have a positive impact and contribute to your business' success. It may sound cruel...but with or without COVID-19, bad employees is one of the top reasons small businesses fail.

  10. Create a strong Marketing Plan for your business that will take you from the day of your big re-opening through the end of the year. How can you maximize seasonal and holiday business? How can you create new peaks if you have already missed prime business periods during your closure?

  11. Create a clear re-opening plan to comply with the new norms: social distancing, masks, gloves, cleaning, dealing with call-outs and sick leave, etc.

  12. Last but not least...ask for help! We are all in this together. Use all of your resources...your family, your doctors, your friends, your mentors, your community leaders, your political leaders, etc. Whatever you have to do to keep your mental, physical, personal and professional self strong.

None of us have ever seen anything like this before. So in dealing with a new will require fresh new ideas, new solutions, new resources and new people. We all know we cannot continue doing the same things we've been doing and expect different results.

You CAN weather this storm!!! Stay STRONG, Be SAFE and Stay WELL...& remember...this too shall pass.

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