Small businesses are the backbone of local communities. With the introduction of COVID-19, many small businesses are struggling to stay afloat. Some are implementing well thought out action plans to ensure their success during this global pandemic and after it subsides. Here are some of the ways small businesses are fighting back against the effects of the coronavirus.
Evaluate and Assess
Businesses are evaluating policies and creating new ones to fit and succeed in these challenging times. Employers need to be carefully analyzing scenarios and creating contingency plans. It is time to examine how major operations are being impacted and what changes need to be made in order to overcome these obstacles. Employers must implement strong communication systems to disseminate information to all of their stakeholders, including employees, clients, suppliers, and investors. As businesses are forced into full remote working conditions or even blended options, effective communication about daily business operations and the health and safety of employees is more important than ever.
When possible, systems for allowing employees to work from home should be utilized. Many businesses are even finding great benefits to remote working conditions. It could also be cost-effective for employers to consider in the future. Saving on office space, utilities, insurance, and employee incidentals is a perk when trying to cut costs. Employees also tend to take fewer sick days and actually even work more hours from the comfort of their homes.
Protect and Prioritize
Employers need to protect their small businesses by putting the health and safety of their employees first. Clear protocols for sanitation and wearing face masks will assist with limiting the spread of the virus in the workplace. Employees should be encouraged to stay home if they are sick and report positive test results so that contact tracing can occur. It is important that in-person employees stay in assigned areas if possible to more effectively trace any contact they have had with others. Employers should also examine policies for sick leave and revise plans to include more flexibility for illness due to COVID-19. Nonessential travel for work should be canceled and essential travel planned carefully to protect all employees.
A sanitation plan and schedule should immediately be implemented. The frequency of cleaning and sanitizing should be increased to assist with limiting the spread of the virus. Employees should be encouraged to sanitize their office space more frequently and cleaning supplies should be readily available.
Plan and Prepare
Business owners should evaluate their finances including their financial risks during this time. All available resources should be referenced to assist with making financial decisions. The Small Business Administration is a great place to start to research small business financial assistance programs and loans. Be familiar and up to date with new government programs such as the CARES Act. It’s also important to pay attention to new regulations and compliance policies by the local, state, and the federal government. For example, there may be restrictions on counter services at government locations, loss of expedited services, or even new documents or required information to be filed.
Adapt and Create
During this time small business owners need to remain flexible, open, and adapt to changing information. In order to lead their business through this pandemic and emerge on the other side, they need to think outside the box and find ways to create opportunities for themselves. They may consider incorporating additional services, implementing promotions and incentives for their customers, launching a new product, or even moving forward with a new business plan, model, or marketing plan.
For example, insurance industry leader Insurance Office of America (IOA) launched SimplyIOA during the pandemic. Conceived by IOA co-founder John Ritenour and IOA Chairman and CEO Heath Ritenour, SimplyIOA is the first fully integrated online insurance quote comparison and buy platform in the United States for home and auto insurance.
As you can see, the key for any business to stay relevant and successful during an emergency is to be prepared, evaluate their business, protect their clients, adapt their operations, and create new opportunities to serve and be a part of their community.