When the world began to shut down in early March, you may have been wondering how your business could survive. How would you pay bills or pay your employees?
In late March, the Small and Medium Business (SMB) Group surveyed 500 businesses to find out how they had been affected by the pandemic. The survey found that businesses with fewer than 20 employees were hit the hardest because these businesses typically lack cash flow and capital. These businesses were also among the first to reduce hours and lay off employees.
Now that we begin to open up our businesses again and assess what has happened over the last few months, how can you be prepared to welcome customers again? Here are 5 steps you can take to jumpstart your business after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Assess Any Financial Damage
If you’re unsure how COVID-19 has really affected your business, it’s important for you to determine what your business looks like now that the pandemic has passed. Take a look at the hard numbers first. If your financial statements haven’t been updated – profit and loss or cash flow – now is the time to do that.
Outside of cash flow and profits, how else has your business been affected? If you had to lay off any employees, you’ll have to account for that. If you cut any of your budgets while your doors were closed, you’ll need to account for that, as well.
Rethink Your Business Plan
Any business plan you had before COVID-19 will most likely not be as successful in this new environment. Your business plan should assess all facets of the consumer experience. If you offer an experience, how can you tailor that experience to suit the new needs of your customers? If you pivoted to an online store when social distancing guidelines were enacted, how can you make your online store work in conjunction with your brick-and-mortar location?
While COVID-19 made a mess of small businesses everywhere, it opened up many small business owners to things they never would have tried before. It also opened them up to new customer bases and ways of communicating. It is important not to lose those new avenues as we make this transition.
Provide Value to Your Customers Through Social Media
Social media should be an important part of any business plan. Now more than ever, people are using social media to connect with friends, family, and brands they love. You can really get creative with using your business pages to promote your brand to old customers and new customers.
Use your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. to drive engagement on your platform and bring traffic to your website. Spotlight your customers and make them a part of your brand’s story. Expanding your digital footprint can help you reach more people and keep loyal customers up-to-date on your store.
It is also important to assess what your followers really want to see right now. Pay attention to trends, what is going on in your industry and how your customer base might be adapting. This can help you create content that is good for the brand and that your customers can really connect with.
Be Ready For the New Normal
Everyone is ready for things to return to “normal,” but we know that things will never go back to the way they were before. As a business, you have to be ready for a new normal. Many of the things we’ve already talked about in this article will help you make that transition. The way we do things after COVID-19 will look different than before, but if you’re prepared, you can create a business model that thrives under these new conditions.
If you created a website for your customers during the pandemic, plan to keep it updated and running to create more business. If you’ve bolstered your social media presence since your brick-and-mortar location temporarily closed, don’t forget about your accounts when you return to the office. As we talked about above, everyone can utilize social media to be creative and interact with consumers. Anything that you’ve done that has worked for your business and your employees should be worked into your new business model.
Create a Contingency Plan
It can be tough to think about the possibility of another worldwide event like the Coronavirus, but you should always be prepared. Many business owners had no idea what they were going to do when they temporarily shut their doors in early March. They had no plan for how to pay the bills and many were forced to lay off their employees to cope with the sudden profit loss.
This pandemic was a wake-up call for many to re-evaluate any contingency plan they might have had in place that wasn’t enough. Begin setting aside money that you can liquidate in the event of a crisis. This can help you pay bills and keep employees on payroll. Consider paying down your debt and trimming nonessential spending. Having a plan, or several plans, in case of emergency, can ease any fears or uncertainty you have about the future.
Other Resources You Can Use
You can utilize the resources from the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) as well as from the Small Business Development Centers. You can also find a SCORE office that can help you rebuild your business. SCORE partners with the SBA.
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