11 Ideas To Protect Your Business During the Covid-19 Crisis
The Covid-19 crisis could potentially have devastating consequences for businesses, here's what you need to do to protect your business from catastrophe.
What if your entire business model changed overnight?
With the COVID-19 crisis, many businesses have had to dramatically change how they operate. And many others have had to shut down altogether.
The future seems more uncertain every day. If you want your business to survive the current COVID crisis, you need to start making major changes altogether!
Not sure where to start? These 10 ideas will help you protect your business, both during and beyond this unprecedented incident.
1. Remote Work
There are many reasons why you may not be able to physically meet with employees at work. These reasons may range from preventative measures on your part all the way to state-mandated orders.
Unless you want work to grind to a halt completely, you'll need to coordinate with workers in a different way. And that means pursuing a variety of remote work options.
First, you'll need to make sure you can communicate well with each other. Zoom and Microsoft Teams offer very versatile ways to share files and initiate video conferencing. You may also want to use Slack to coordinate different projects remotely via phone.
Second, you'll need to rethink how you approach work. During this crisis, it can be very difficult to hold synchronous meetings with your entire team. But if you switch to asynchronous messaging and flexible project due dates, you can accommodate your remote workforce while staying on top of major deadlines and project goals.
Remember, there is going to be an inevitable learning curve when it comes to your teams learning new technology and mastering remote work. Try to demonstrate patience and empathy during this time to help bolster team morale.
2. Inform Your Customers
You don't always have to reinvent the wheel to figure out what your company should do during this time. For inspiration, look no further than your inbox!
By now, you've probably received dozens of e-mails from various companies about what they are doing during the pandemic. And you need to do the same thing for your own customers as soon as possible!
The primary thing that your customers want to know is how you are planning to keep them safe. You can send out a mass e-mail that outlines any changes to your existing procedures that you have made to enhance customer safety.
One example of this is pizza delivery. All the major pizza chains tweaked their sales model to include “contactless delivery.” This allows customers to handle everything online or via phone and then receive a pizza on their doorstep, all without risking human interaction.
In addition to added safety precautions, your customers should know about any changes to your service or overall business. If you are shutting down any locations or switching to an online sales model (more on this later), it's important to let your customers know right away.
3. Talk To Your Employees
You're reading this because you're currently stressed about the effects that COVID-19 will have on your business. But ask yourself: do you know how stressed-out your employees must be right now?
The Internet is filled with horror stories of businesses shutting down and tales of workers losing their jobs. No matter how secure someone's position currently is, the current situation has them wondering, “what if that happens to me?”
That's why it's important to speak with your employees about this crisis right away. You must be both plain and direct about any current changes to your business and any further disruptions on the horizon.
Incidentally, this is another good reason to develop a remote work strategy. Employees will feel reassured if you have a plan to keep them working from home.
On top of job security, employees are also going to be worried about their own safety. Take this time to offer safety tips so that everyone can stay healthy and productive, even while working from home.
It is vitally important that you help foster employee morale and smooth over concerns as soon as possible. Otherwise, you may lose some of your key talents at a time when it is virtually impossible to interview any replacement hires!
4. Reduce Travel Whenever Possible
This goes hand-in-hand with the remote work options, but you need to reduce travel whenever possible. And you should encourage your employees to do the same thing.
On a day-to-day basis, that means avoiding going into the office if you can help it. And if somebody typically picks up supplies for your business, you should explore whether the relevant vendors offer specialized delivery options.
If you have any work-related conferences scheduled for the next few months, you should go ahead and cancel them. This holds true for any conferences you were planning to host and any conferences you were simply planning to attend.
While they work from home, you should encourage employees to explore delivery grocery options within the town. Reducing how many times your employees visit crowded stores of potentially infected people is one of the best ways to reduce how many of your employees get sick.
If you want to boost employee morale during this difficult time, consider hosting some informal video chats where people can chat and blow off steam. This helps underscore that employees can still virtually hang out with other people without traveling to see them.
5. Plan for Different Scenarios
They say the greatest fear is the fear of the unknown. And that's certainly the scariest part of COVID-19: the fact that we don't know exactly how all of this is going to change the business landscape.
That's why you need to plan for many different possible scenarios for your business. You should have a plan in place if everything is back to normal within a month. But you should also have contingency plans if it will take 3 months or even 6 months.
Your plans should include lots of fine details. Are you prepared if most of your employees end up using their vacation time during this crisis? Are other employees prepared to assume extra responsibilities if one or two employees quit to focus on their families?
Creating a variety of longterm plans has always been part of running a successful business. But with COVID-19, there are countless different variables for you to consider. You may not be able to plan for all of them, but the more you can plan for, the smoother this difficult time will be.
6. Flexible Employee Options
Here's a bit of an open secret: you will need to be more flexible with your employees than ever. That's because they are stuck at home with a very different kind of work environment!
For example, many schools (both public schools and colleges) have switched to an online model for the duration of this crisis. That means your employees must balance their work responsibilities with helping their children complete homework.
This alone is harder than you might imagine. Just like that, your employees are now part-time homeschool teachers, which is something they never signed up for.
If employees have young children that are typically in daycare, that daycare is likely to close. Therefore, they'll have no one else to watch their child during typical work time hours.
All of this adds up to the need for both remote work options and a lot of employee flexibility. Flexible hours, for example, can help them work around unexpected home life. And cutting down on synchronous virtual meetings in place of e-mail and Slack discussions will make it easier for everyone to participate (even if they have a screaming kid in the background).
7. Time to (Re)Negotiate
Even if you're a “glass half full” person, it's tough to apply that mentality to COVID-19. The entire world is changing–what's the “upside” in all of this?
For your business, one of the unexpected upsides is the chance to negotiate (and renegotiate) with the different vendors that your business relies on. Because their own livelihoods are also at stake, they may be willing to offer you more favorable terms.
A basic example of this is pricing. You may be able to negotiate a better price for the supplies that you need to keep going.
If you can't get a better price, you may be able to get more “bang for your buck.” Many of these vendors may be willing to offer additional services with your existing plans in order to retain your business.
And if you're really lucky, you may be able to cut down on various bills as well. You may be able to avoid rent on your business lease for a few months. That alone can be a huge help when you're staring down the barrel of an uncertain future.
8. Focus on Online Sales
You may or may not be a big fan of online sales. But for the duration of this crisis, it's vitally important that you switch to an online sales model ASAP.
With any luck, you already have a professional business website. You can quickly set up some eCommerce options to allow customers to order everything online. To get the most out of this, you'll need to explore the best shipping options to get everything sent to your customers in a timely manner.
You can also sell products through your social media platforms. It is particularly easy to set up a shop on Facebook. And even if you don't set up a social media shop, it's important to use social media to promote your online sales and deals and tell the world about your business story.
It's possible that this strategy will actually grow your business, as it did for some shops in China. In fact, a cosmetics company Lin Qingxuan actually had 200% growth despite closing 40% of its stores.
The lesson here is one that we should have already learned: online sales really are the wave of the future. By setting up a robust online sales strategy, you can transform your business both during and after this crisis.
9. Seek Credit Increases
Ever hear the advice “better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it?” That logic now applies to any and all available credit lines.
Over the coming weeks and months, you may have unexpected expenses and sudden needs for cash. Accordingly, you'll want to make sure you have enough on hand by requesting increases to all of your credit lines.
There is no real downside to doing this, especially before things get any worse out there. Simply having the money available doesn't mean you are obligated to spend it. But if any sudden financial needs occur, you'll be able to cover them.
And don't discount good, old-fashioned savings. If possible, you should start setting more money back in reserve. The more liquid assets you have available to you, the more readily you can respond to changes in the financial landscape.
10. Find Insurance Options
No matter how well-prepared you are, COVID-19 is likely to disrupt your business in some way. That's why you should seek out different forms of business interruption insurance.
Many insurance companies are offering a variety of coverage options for different needs and emergencies during this time. It's true that your own insurance carrier may not cover every single emergency, but it never hurts to ask.
For the sake of your employees, it's worth exploring many of the relief options offered by the Small Business Administration. These include things like a paycheck protection program to help ensure that your employees are getting paid while times are tight for your business.
The SBA also has a number of loan programs to help you make it through this temporary financial difficulty. Between these loans and potential insurance options, you can make sure your business and its employees have the best possible protection.
And make no mistake: taking such measures to protect everyone's livelihood goes a long way towards boosting employee morale!
11. SBA Payment Protection Program
The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan created by the federal government to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll.
SBA will forgive these loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities.
Who Can Apply?
- Any small business concern that meets SBA’s size standards (either the industry based sized standard or the alternative size standard)
- Any business, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, 501(c)(19) veterans organization, or Tribal business concern (sec. 31(b)(2)(C) of the Small Business Act) with the greater of:
- 500 employees, or
- That meets the SBA industry size standard if more than 500
- Any business with a NAICS Code that begins with 72 (Accommodations and Food Services) that has more than one physical location and employs less than 500 per location
- Sole proprietors, independent contractors, and self-employed persons
The loan will be fully forgiven if the funds are used for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities (due to likely high subscription, at least 75% of the forgiven amount must have been used for payroll). Loan payments will also be deferred for six months. No collateral or personal guarantees are required. Neither the government nor lenders will charge small businesses any fees.
The COVID Crisis: What Comes Next?
Now you know how to protect your business during the COVID crisis. But do you know who can help you emerge from this crisis stronger than ever?
We provide reviews to help customers and other businesses find the best possible products. To see how we can put your products on the map, come get your business reviewed today!
Author: Hudson Piccini
Hudson Cynar, a Harvard University alumna and the owner of three prosperous enterprises, is a distinguished business consultant, author, and writer. Her expertise spans multiple business sectors, with a particular emphasis on storage containers, commercial copiers, payroll services, and medical billing software. Dedicatedly investing thousands of hours into product and service research, Hudson crafts insightful reviews to guide entrepreneurs in making informed decisions for their businesses.