Small Business Survival Plan for COVID-19 2nd wave
HOW TO SURVIVE AND RUN YOUR BUSINESS SUCCESSFULLY DURING CORONAVIRUS
We’d like to suggest useful tips that your company can implement right away in order to minimize the potentially detrimental consequences of the coronavirus situation.
Here we have come up with some tips to survive your business which your company can implement immediately:
- Move your business fully online, and do it fast.
If you had to shut down your physical store, office or gym and are counting days until this madness is over – stop. Being proactive is the way to go if you want your business to survive, and even thrive, despite the chaos.
Time is of the essence here and you have to act fast. Developing a perfect website from scratch, getting a new logo or taking outstanding product pictures can look like an overwhelming task, and that’s because it is.
However, don’t get stuck thinking that’s the only choice you’ve got.
In fact, creating a decent landing page for your services or setting up an online store can be done overnight. Phew! You can do it within a few hours. No coding required!
- For setting up an online shop, use a platform such as BigCommerce, Shopify or Etsy
- For selling items directly, consider marketplaces such as Amazon or Ebay
- For providing services, you can build a website with WordPress, Wix or Weebly
- Integrate a solid blog strategy with your site for more options like affiliate marketing, online branding, etc.
If you are not convinced yet, here’s why choosing a platform-based solution is the best option right now for any business that wants to go online:
- Quick and easy set up (only a few hours!)
- Free, ready-to-use templates
- Cheaper than custom-built websites
- In-built tools for optimization
- Reduced maintenance costs
- Readily available hosting support
- Don’t wait, act. Almost every business can operate online, at least partially. It’s all about being creative and proactive in how you set up your processes.
- Take care of your employees = health and safety first
Taking your business online also means that there will be plenty of work that needs to be done.
Each business ought to approach this process in accordance with what works best for them, but one thing is universal: the health and safety of your employees should be your priority.
And here’s a quick guide to best practices for making your team prepared for the situation:
If working in the office – equip it with sufficient sanitary products: soaps, hand sanitizers, face masks.
Print out posters reminding employees to keep hygiene levels high, especially washing hands.
Limit the number of meetings or move them online
Work remotely if possible
Prepare a health and safety policy for everyone to follow
The good news is that modern technology allows for teams to work remotely without compromising their productivity or the quality of their work. All you need is the right toolset. Take a look at some of the tools that you can use for free to streamline remote work for your employees:
- Internal communication: Brosix
- Documents sharing: Google Drive or Dropbox
- Online meetings: Zoom or Google Hangouts
- Customer communication: Tidio Live Chat or Drift
- Product demos or tutorials: Loom or BreadnBeyond
Pro tip: In case, you need to on-board new hires remotely, check out this in-depth guide on how to perform remote onboarding as smoothly as possible.
Small Business Survival Plan for COVID-19 2nd wave
- Seek out government support and cut down expenses.
In times of a crisis, asking for help is not optional, but rather what every responsible business owner should do. Since the coronavirus outbreak has become a global issue, plenty of governments, organizations and independent businesses have offered help in fighting the crisis.
As a business owner, you should not stay behind, but rather proactively seek out ways to help your business stay afloat.
Depending on the country you operate in, your government might have already come up with projects, programs or loan schemes to support you and your fellow entrepreneurs. Research the official website of your government to find out more details.
The support might be aimed at helping you cover expenses if your revenue is frozen, your employees took sick leave or you have to pay refunds. The help your government can offer might vary from tax relief through loans to paying out directly with no need for returning the capital.
If you run a US-based business, you can read more about your options on the website of the U.S. Small Business Administration and Capital One:
- Small Business Guidance & Loan Resources
- Assistance for Customers Impacted by the COVID-19 Virus Situation
B). Cutting down expenses
Another way to find some financial relief for your business is to focus on cutting down your costs. Now, before you consider human resources (your employees) to be the biggest cost that you should get rid of, hold on with your decisions.
There are other ways you can reduce costs during the crisis. One of them is looking for unnecessary expenses, such as rarely used apps, gym memberships for your employees or other benefits that you can suspend.
Apart from this, it’s important to check in with your service providers whether they are able to offer you discounts or free access during the pandemic. There are plenty of companies that have decided to give back to the community during the crisis.
- Move online but stay “local” (and use it to your advantage)
Even though the situation is a challenging one, there is always a silver lining to be noticed. We might observe detrimental short-term consequences but in the long-term it can prove to be a valuable test for small businesses that might later on also benefit the local economy.
Let me be perfectly clear when I say that the situation is extremely difficult and I would never wish for small business to go through a similar thing again. Yet, we all have to look for positives and things to learn from.
With more and more countries on a lockdown, supply chains have become strained. With many factories closed down as well as import and export restrictions, the majority of retail businesses will suffer.
However, the negative impact of such a situation can be minimized and avoided in the future by taking a few steps right now:
- Get in touch and collaborate with local providers
- Diversify your suppliers portfolio
- Partner up with other businesses on promotions, vouchers etc. to keep the liquidity of your business’s finance
- Go with your services and products online
- In fact, if you are running a small business and want to market to your local audience, there has never been a better time to do it.
Here are a few things that you should keep in mind when going online as a local business.
A). Leverage the power of local SEO
If you want your shop to be ranking on the first pages of Google for people from your neighborhood, you have to level up your local SEO game. Luckily, nowadays Google is really supportive of local businesses.
It makes sense, as more than 46% of Google searches have “local intent”.
Take a look at the local SEO ranking factors
- The location that the person is searching from
- NAP citations
- Presence of Google My Business listing
- Keywords used in Google my Business profile
- Sentiment of online reviews
- Keyword used in online reviews
- Number of “check-ins” at that location
- Shares on social media
- Google Maps star rating for that business
Truth is, the topic of SEO is a complex one, and however there is nothing that cannot be mastered if you put time and effort into doing so. In fact, the world’s lockdown made it easier and cheaper to access this kind of knowledge. Check out this awesome list of digital marketing courses (including SEO) that you can complete during your quarantine to grow your business.
B). Use vouchers, giveaways, promotions
You can keep your business’s financial liquidity stable by launching and selling vouchers and promotions that your customers can redeem in the future.
Such promotions are also great for boosting your brand’s awareness and building trust between your business and your customers. There are plenty of loyalty programs ideas you can implement.
It’s become a common practice for SPA centers, massage therapists or hairdressers who are promoting such options on their social media. By doing this, your cash flow is not frozen and you are able to keep your business running and paying your expenses without going into debt.
Many people want to shop locally to support their community and in times like this, it’s also the only choice they have. Don’t take advantage of it by raising your prices, but rather use it to meet your customers halfway and build new relationships.
- Remember your shipment tracking and return & refund workflow.
Every day we hear about more and more restrictions put on all the industries due to the coronavirus pandemic.
With closed shopping centers and boutiques, retail will suffer. Empty shelves in supermarkets observed right after strict government restrictions also meant increased traffic in other e-commerce stores, for example those selling healthcare products. With shortages in factories, you might experience delays from your suppliers.
In consequence, you might not be able to deliver your customers their ordered goods on time. It’s crucial that you track shipments and communicate to your clients about any possible issues.
Small Business Survival Plan for COVID-19 2nd wave
Here are two situations you have to get ready for during the pandemic:
A). Customers will ask you about the status of their purchases all the time.
In order to handle all customer queries, you might need to automate your customer support, for example using live chat or chatbots. A good idea is to also let your audience know about it in advance, for example using social media.
You can also use emails to inform your audience about the situation. Make sure to equip yourself with a reliable email marketing software to avoid any issues with email deliverability.
B). Online shoppers can return everything (and you should expect refunds)
That’s the rule. When selling online, you can’t just point to a “no refunds” sticker in your store. If something is bought online customers can return it without any reason. With a much smaller revenue, refunds can be a serious blow to small businesses already struggling during the crisis.
Here, again it’s important to have an automated process in place, for example by using chatbots or assigning a person responsible for handling refunds and returns.
All in all, make sure to introduce a solid inventory management system in place in order to avoid issues and miscommunication with your staff.
Stay transparent and available to your customers
In the times of crisis, two things matter most when it comes to providing excellent customer service: availability and radical honesty.
Small Business Survival Plan for COVID-19 2nd wave By being transparent and keeping your customers up-to-date with regards to your business’s operations you can strengthen your reputation as well as build long-lasting relationships and trust with your audience.
One thing is certain: The faster, the better.
Just take a look at some statistics related to customer service:
- 50% of customers have left a brand for a competitor who was able to stay more relevant and better satisfy their needs
- Businesses can grow revenues between 4% and 8% above their market when they prioritize better customer service experiences
- 40% of customers want customer service reps to take care of their needs faster
- 90% of customers rate an “immediate” response as important or very important when they have a customer service question. 60% of customers define “immediate” as 10 minutes or less.
As you can see, the way you treat your customers, especially in the times of crisis, is crucial to your business’s reputation and its success. React fast and be honest about what you plan to do, and I assure you that your customers will pay you back by supporting your business.
That is a great gesture towards both: employees who will still be employed and earn money and customers who will get served. As you can see, it got shared 111 times and the community has expressed its support.
Truth is, by now you should have prepared a response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Anything is good enough – creating a social media post, recording a YouTube video, sending out newsletter announcements or even building a separate landing page outlining the steps you are taking in the light of the crisis.
Don’t wait for your competitors to steal your customers with outstanding and immediate customer service and communication and be the one to live up to your customers’ expectations, especially in such challenging times. Don’t lose your customers’ trust when there is so much at stake.
In the end…
Small Business Survival Plan for COVID-19 2nd wave of Covid-19 is bound to change the world of business for months (or even years) to come.
It might be challenging to conduct business customarily right now, that doesn’t mean that your business must suffer consequences for the long-run. On the contrary, by going fully online, implementing practical solutions as presented above, and being transparent with your audience, your business will not only survive, but also thrive despite the pandemic and potentially achieve greater results in the long run as well.