Small business owners are struggling as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, but many of them have very different problems. For instance, you might be a retail shop owner hoping you can keep your employees paid, even though foot traffic has dramatically reduced and people are shopping online more than ever before. Or perhaps you may have a travel-related business, and are unsure about how you’ll be able to weather the storm until people are comfortable with flying and driving again. Maybe you’re a gym owner that’s trying to figure out how to enforce social distancing once you can open your doors again.
Whatever your small business provides to customers, there’s a good chance your focus has shifted from thriving – to simply surviving.
For many business owners, you’ll require all hands on deck to figure out how to change your business model or cut costs enough to stay afloat. Fortunately, relying on the expertise of an IT support firm like Mustard IT can help you make these changes quickly and easily without compromising the integrity of your company.
If your business – regardless of industry – is in a similar boat, here are four strategies to help your SME survive this global pandemic.
Put Aside Your Ego (and Apply for a Loan)
Entrepreneurs are often known to be stubborn, and this trait can be a great way to ensure their vision is executed. Your ego might be the reason so many employees recognize you as a leader, but it might be time to set aside the hardened attitude if your business is facing peril. You might have invested your life savings into your business, and be proud of that fact, but no business owner should be above applying for a loan of some kind.
The pandemic has already wreaked havoc on the economies of many countries, and there’s no point in laying off employees if there’s no need. As a business owner, you should do everything you can to apply for the right loans, or funds, in order to make sure your business stays open. If you’re unsure about where to look, start with your city, state, or country government website and go from there. You might even want to call other business owners in your city and ask for help regarding where to look for loans and funding. It simply doesn’t make sense for a small or medium enterprise (SME) to shut down when there’s a perfectly good loan available that can help them make it through.
Examine Your Past (and Learn from It)
Business owners have more time than ever to examine what they did wrong in their business, and it’s important to remain self-aware as an entrepreneur. You might think it’s a foolish time to revisit that failed marketing campaign, or do some research regarding customer acquisition – but why not put all that free time to use? Of course, it’s important to keep your mental health a priority, rather than worrying about productivity levels. However, this might be a great time to figure out what went wrong, and why. You don’t have to obsess over the past and what you did wrong, but you can look back and examine where you could’ve done things a bit smarter in hindsight.
Entrepreneurs might want to rethink the way they hire employees, or strategize about what they can do to improve company culture. You might decide it’s time to step up the way you think about marketing strategies, whether it involves search-engine optimization (SEO), copywriting, or e-mail marketing. It doesn’t matter whether you’re going over marketing material or training videos: use the time to learn from your past mistakes as much as possible.
Be Honest with Yourself (and Your Employees)
Unfortunately, some business owners don’t value honesty when it comes to their employees. Often, these businesses literally end up failing simply because their employees feel undervalued and underappreciated. Even if you have never struggled with this problem, you should maintain open lines of communication with your employees and let them know when you’re planning to re-open, or why you are waiting to re-open.
We live in an age where large corporations have taken the opportunity to lay off as many employees as possible, and some are even doing so through remote meeting software like Zoom due to the pandemic. If you must lay people off, this is something you must be upfront about – rather than blindsiding your employees as if they’re strangers you don’t care about. Entrepreneurs need to understand employees value transparency, and your company can take a huge reputational hit if you aren’t fully honest with them. There’s a good chance your employees will understand all your business concerns – but they can’t read your mind.
Do What You Can (and Stay Positive)
There are many steps small and medium business owners can take that can help them during this crisis. Some entrepreneurs may have saved enough to survive during a lockdown, and can even pay most, or all their employees, even if business isn’t exactly booming. If this is the case for you, that’s wonderful! You can still perform tasks like negotiate rent or have conversations with vendors about prices – actions that will save you money for months, or even years, to come. Many landlords appear to be open to the conversation.
It’s important to stay positive as a business owner, even if you know you’ll have to deliver some bad news. You might not take pride in the fact that you have to fire some people that you’ve grown to know personally, but there’s a good chance they’ll understand that your business simply can’t survive unless cuts are made. Business owners might also decide to make other tough decisions – such as move locations, readjust price points, or lower expenses by other means.