Coronavirus is not only harming humans but also affecting businesses across the globe, shaking up markets, and changing consumer behavior to a substantially large extent. The world as a whole is scrambling to slow and contain the spread of COVID-19 infections.
As per one recent study, 27% of small business owners believe that COVID-19 will affect their revenue. This has started happening as many businesses, including mid to large-size enterprises, are getting negatively affected due to the coronavirus outbreak and its consequences. SmallBizTrends recently surveyed many businesses, out of which 52% say they have started taking measures to prepare for the anticipated economic slowdown. They are switching suppliers, increasing product prices, and cutting operating costs/managing cash flow.
It is true and so far has proven right that preparation is the key to crisis management.
Following are some actions that you, as a leader, can take to make sure your organization withstands that is yet to come.
1. Test your business continuity & disaster recovery plan
Ask your IT department to test your company’s business continuity and disaster recovery plan. By doing this, you would discover issues such as;
- Gaps in your business continuity plan and lack of capabilities to deal with a disaster.
- Difficulties in launching and restoring business applications and related insights into failure.
- Insufficient bandwidth of the internet and office space.
- Network configuration and hardware capacity issues.
2. Consider taking a small business loan
Currently, interest rates on business loans are low. The COVID-19 might not last longer (similar to the SARS virus that had become a world threat years ago). Do market research and apply for a small business loan at the lowest rate you get. If your business is down, a loan can help cover the expenditure. Besides that, if you have been maintaining solid financial health for a few years and are planning an expansion, this is the right opportunity and time to secure funds at a very low cost.
3. Communicate with your employees frequently
As the deadly virus COVID-19 is spreading very quickly, you need to talk to your employees from time to time sharing your ideas with them about what you are doing as their employer to reduce risks and what you expect them to do for the same. Also, you should make them feel valued and tell them that you wish for their good health.
4. Review locations of your employees and their travel plans
Amid this emergency, it is essential for you to determine where your staff exactly is and how many employees are affected or living in areas that are more vulnerable. Find if employees had plans to travel which you really to review, and reschedule/cancel as per the guidelines of your local authorities and business requirements. Think about how you can plan for both their safety and your business functions. Allowing some staff to work from home could be a big help.
Prepare clear policies to address sick leaves and absence due to family care, for reporting the same, and travel restrictions, etc. And the most important thing is that you need to make changes and update these policies as per the changes in circumstances around you.
5. Use virtual collaboration tools
If you are in a country that is locked down, your employees have most probably started working remotely; this demands proper virtual collaboration tools.
But when you start using these tools you might face multiple issues and in order to prevent them;
- Provide training sessions about using the tools through the simple video conferencing applications such as Skype.
- Choose a brand; purchase its license and ask all employees to use that. This way you will eliminate disruption during virtual meetings.
6. Move to new sales channels
Even amid the lockdown situation in most parts of the country, consumers will still need and purchase things, allowing you to shift to alternate mediums of sales to serve them. For instance, if you have experienced that foot traffic to your retail store has significantly reduced, you can increase the line of products for sale on your website; sell online. Similarly, as less people are visiting restaurants; if you are a restaurant owner, offer takeaway meals and provide home delivery service. This way, you can get some income than nothing at all.
7. Evaluate supply chain
Understanding your supply chain can help you determine potential issues. This includes starting with your top products and talking to your first- and second-tier suppliers. If your major supply comes from a region that is under lockdown, do you have any substitute supplier? In this time of difficulty when the virus is spreading quickly, prudent planning can help prevent substantial loss. Thus, evaluate your supply chain and plan ahead.
8. Cash flow management
According to a recent study 3 out of 5 five small business owners face cash flow problems. If you’re preparing your business to avoid getting financially impacted by the consequences of coronavirus, here are some tips you can follow to manage your cash flow amid the pandemic.
- Review cash flow budgets and adjust them
- Review capital expenditure
- Cut overheads
- Find financing options
- Timely financial reporting
- Timely invoice processing
- Proper inventory management
- Debtors & Creditors management
9. Take care of customers too
Yes, customers are real value generators as they buy things from you and pay you. Connect with your customers and find if you can help them in any way during the COVID-19 crisis. If you can, provide them additional services or shopping assistance, helping them if your business functioning schedule changes. Only if it is possible for you, consider allowing more time for payments to customers that might be going through hardships due to the downturn.
10. Seek help from experts
Every industry is expected to be impacted, as the pandemic becomes more severe. Almost 40% of the workforce might not be able to work due to sickness (either directly or indirectly). For example, if your employee is fine health wise, they might become unable to work as they need to take care of a family member that is ill. Adding to that, you might need to allow them to work in flexible work timings. In such situations, you can consider outsourcing some of your back-office functions to experts working for outsourcing companies. To start with, you can outsource bookkeeping and accounting services cogneesol.com you never know if this can turn out to be a decision that can get your business back on track, even in this economic down time.
While the points discussed above can help you keep your business running, continuing to market your business will ensure that you get income, though it might not be consistent, you cannot sit without putting efforts. You can market your business with a small adverting budget, you just need to think out of the box and find the ways. For any business problem, there’s a solution too. If we discuss resource shortage, know that outsourcing companies are filled with qualified, skilled, and experienced experts. The world is shifting to outsourcing to fight against the lack of workforce.