The sudden global spread of coronavirus has left many businesses facing an unprecedented struggle for survival. What do you do when most potential clients and customers are restricted from even going outside, while others may face their own uncertainty over disposable income? Normal rules of engagement and common business practice have been thrown up in the air for an indefinite period – but there is hope.
Here are some ways a small business can plan to survive this crisis and come out the other side:
Utilize the Internet
We have one major advantage over previous generations when it comes to navigating this kind of uniquely introverted crisis: online connection. Friends and family may be disconnected physically but thanks to the Internet we can all still feel a sense of connection to each other and the outside world. This can be massively beneficial to a small business primarily because it offers the opportunity to stay in public view and even build your brand online.
This isn’t just about improving your website. By using tools like Skype, Facebook Live or Google Hangouts you’ll still be able to have regular meetings with employees, or even hold online Q & A sessions to build relationships with existing/potential clients. If you depend on face-to-face meet-ups to run your business, it may not be so hard to keep things running almost as normal online. Some gyms, for example, have shown flexibility by moving to ‘home workout’ videos for those in self-isolation.
Governments around the world have been rapidly exploring ways to help businesses survive the current crisis with extra financial support. This ranges from emergency grants, wage packages for both employees and the self-employed (helping job retention in a time when you may struggle with cash flow), to business rate relief for the period 2020-2021.
If you’d like help with knowing your rights in this area, it’s best to talk to business finance experts to get sound advice and know what your options are.
Support from loyal customers
In some cases you may have clients or customers who have access to disposable income and (if they were happy with the service being provided) may be willing to make a donation to help the business survive in the short term. You could pledge to reward their loyalty in some way if you’re concerned about coming across as a charity. Remember, if loyal customers would be spending their money on your business in normal circumstances, chances are they also want you sticking around for when the crisis is over. It doesn’t have to be financial help either; customers can spread the word for your business, potentially giving you a head start when things return to relative normality. Be proactive in suggesting ways they could best do this while unable to support you directly.
Make your voice heard
By utilising some of the tools outlined above, you can keep your business fresh in the eyes of potential customers while hopefully accessing adequate financial aid. But this may not be enough, and often change only happens because those who are struggling speak up about it. Don’t be afraid to get in touch with local politicians and/or media to raise concerns on an issue that’s vital to you. By flagging up something important, you could be part of encouraging more recognition for the small businesses who help keep the country running on ground level.
These are just a few suggestions for getting through what is a very tough time for most small businesses around the world. Depending on the kind of business you run, some things may work better. But the most important first step in getting through this crisis is believing you can, and believing we’ll come out the other side ready to appreciate ‘business as usual’.