In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic took the world by storm. There are currently 40 million confirmed cases in 189 countries, as per BBC News. The latest death toll is more than one million, and according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the death toll could reach two million even with a vaccine available.
The tragic loss of millions of human lives is not the only impact made by the pandemic. It has also made various sectors apply drastic measures to at least slow the death toll. Social distancing has also been implemented for the public. This has led to the cancellation of events, flights, and anything that would involve groups of people getting together. The handling of big and small business management work is also taking a toll during this pandemic.
How is COVID-19 affecting small businesses?
According to the International Trade Centre (ITC), one out of four small businesses all over the world is likely to shut down permanently due to the COVID-19 crisis. 60% of the respondents in ITC’s survey say that their businesses were strongly affected by the pandemic. Because the government implemented lockdowns and quarantines, businesses had no choice but to comply. This report also states that small businesses are vulnerable to closure due to fewer assets and limited cash reserves to meet the shortages lockdown brought.
Meanwhile, according to McKinsey & Company’s study, about 30 million small-business jobs in the U.S.A. are vulnerable during this crisis. Businesses with less than 100 employees are at the greatest risk. The threat is present in over half a million small-business jobs in 22 of the 50 states. Despite this economic catastrophe, the public and private sectors are doing everything they can to provide sufficient small business management support.
COVID-19 can affect businesses in three ways: through employee absenteeism, change in commerce patterns, and interrupted supply or delivery.
To ensure that your business remains in operation, you can apply these small business management tips:
Prepare to make changes to your operations
The pandemic has demanded many changes in how we live our lives. When it comes to small business operations, the “new normal” setup is also applicable. There will be a lot of small business management adjustments needed to adapt to the new reality. But perhaps one of the most significant aspects to look at is making a business continuity plan.
Reach out to your usual suppliers earlier than you used to, especially if your supplies come from overseas. Discuss whether your purchase orders will arrive on time or if there will be some delays. This is so you can manage your customers’ expectations. Also, make sure that these deliveries comply with health and safety measures.
While health and safety measures have been a practice for a while, the pandemic has made operations stricter in that aspect. Implementing workplace controls can help ease workplace hazards. For instance, companies may install air filters or ventilation to reduce the risk of airborne infection.
When you have already laid out your strategies, don’t forget to compile a plan for your cash flow. This will help you determine how much money you will need to sustain your business in the weeks and months to come. This will work as a guide to figure out your needed capital for post-recovery.
Make sure that everyone is equipped to work
Depending on the nature of your business, you can either continue your operations onsite or have your staff work from home. Either way, you have to make sure that they are equipped.
Most companies during the pandemic have resorted to running a remote team. If employees will be working from home, the company should be able to provide them with office amenities. Computers should have VPNs installed, and the IT team should review essential systems first before delivering them to the employees’ homes. Another suggestion is to have a reimbursement program, if possible, so that employees can convert a specific space in their home into a viable remote office.
However, a work-from-home setup doesn’t suit all kinds of businesses. If you continue business operations onsite, make sure that all your customary machinery, tools, and other equipment are fully functioning. Due to the pandemic, all these should be kept clean at all times. If suitable, you may also want to install physical barriers between workstations so that social distancing will be strictly followed by your employees.
Ensure the safety of your workplace
WHO says that COVID-19 is transmitted through person-to-person contact. This respiratory illness can also be spread through respiratory droplets when an infected individual coughs or sneezes. These respiratory droplets can also land on objects or surfaces. So, when a person touches a contaminated material, they may become infected.
As per laboratory research, respiratory droplets may remain viable at varying hours. For plastic and stainless steel, they may remain for up to 72 hours. On copper, they may stay for up to four hours. While on cardboard, they may last up to 24 hours.
Any place can be vulnerable to COVID-19 transmission, and that is why social distancing is important. To make sure your workplace remains safe from this illness, it is recommended that your staff wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) gear. This helps minimize exposure to hazards that can lead to serious workplace illnesses or injuries.
Businesses should also make it clear that if an employee feels sick, they should just stay at home. Workers should be responsible for monitoring their health and getting their temperature regularly. Create a health checklist that your staff can follow as to whether they should come back to work or not.
Moreover, businesses should adopt flexible sick leave policies. This will make employees follow the regulation of staying at home instead of insisting on going to work, even if they have COVID-19 symptoms.
Another course of action to ensure everyone’s safety in the workplace is to implement contact tracing. Here, health professionals interview an infected person and ask them who they had contact with while being infectious. Then, the health professionals will warn these contacts of the possibility of them getting the virus so that they can have themselves checked and/or quarantined.
The intention of contact tracing is not to pass judgment but rather to collect data that will prevent COVID-19 from spreading in the workplace.
The job of employers in contact tracing is to keep track of all attendance records and scheduled shifts of their staff. The details of all vendors, subcontractors, or suppliers who visit your facility should also be noted.
Leverage social media and ecommerce platforms
Communication is important in small business management and entrepreneurship. When communicating with your employees, there should be a sense of urgency, empathy, and transparency. With urgency, people are encouraged to work fast so that there will be no repercussions in the operations. With transparency, you earn your people’s trust and respect. Lastly, empathy brings your staff hope.
It should be clear within the team which channel of communication or program you will use to stay connected. Communicate regularly. Check up on them, address their concerns, and keep them in the loop about your plans for the future.
Aside from your team, you shouldn’t forget to communicate with your customers. It’s time to revamp your communications plan to adjust to the pandemic. If you don’t have a website yet, create one now. You can also create social media pages to further promote your products and services. Use paid ads, email marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), and other digital marketing efforts to ensure your business will remain visible online.
Furthermore, focus your customer communications on these three things: being transparent, being factual, and maintaining a relationship. Be transparent on how your business is doing at this time of the pandemic. If you share information with your customers, make sure that everything is fact-based. And don’t forget to be genuine in connecting with them, regardless if they are going to patronize what you’re offering or not.
Add cashless payment methods
Another advancement in technology is being able to pay cashless. After all, cash is considered dirty. It may even be a possible source of COVID-19 transmission. Imagine respiratory droplets landing on those bills and coins!
With cashless transactions, you don’t have to worry about the aforementioned concerns. Adding cashless payment methods to your business website will attract more customers to buy from you. Using digital payments, customers will not need to go out to withdraw cash. Just a few taps on their smartphone, and they can just wait for their deliveries to arrive. No hassle!
Level up your marketing strategy
There are different ways on how you can modify your marketing strategy and still reach your customers during this crisis. You can research on your own or consult various marketing consultants for help. Go to mymarketingplaybook.com to get a professional small business management guide.
One way to level up your marketing strategy is to emphasize that your products and services are still relevant despite the pandemic. You can also offer helpful tools and promotions that will help them deal with the “new normal” while building brand awareness. If you’re using email marketing before, you may want to change your standard content to a more personal message, making them feel that you are with them at this trying time.
Since we are in the period of lockdowns and quarantines, most likely your potential customers are glued to their social media accounts. Capitalize on this moment and create relevant posts that are not too sales-focused but rather engaging and entertaining. Finally, review your sales funnel and analyze your data. Take a look at the competition to see what is working and what is not so you can apply them to your business operations.
Everyone is affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. But this should not stop us from running our businesses. We need to apply a lot of changes and adjustments just to survive. However, also be prepared for the worst. If you have already exhausted everything but still aren’t seeing revenue growth, you can always pause for a while and think things through.
For more tips on how you can effectively manage your business during a crisis, visit our website!