7 Tips to Help Small Businesses Recover in the Pandemic

If you’re a business owner trying to survive in this pandemic, it may seem like the rules are constantly changing. As shelter-in-place orders are lifted, you may not know where to start if you want to get your small business back up and running. 

The quarantine has affected — and continues to affect — many aspects of business operations. But if you take time to assess your situation, adapt to your “new normal,” and put in the work to reboot your business, there’s a good chance you can recover from the coronavirus crisis and bounce back better than ever. Here are some tips to help you get started:

Consider the Needs of Your Community

The effects of the pandemic can be felt in communities across the country. As people adjust to the many aspects of aftermath, you may discover that the needs of your customers and suppliers have changed. By adapting your business operations accordingly, you’ll be in a better position to meet community needs and help your company grow.

Are your customers worried about disruptions in the supply chain? Shortages of essential supplies? Personal health and safety for their own employees and customers? By doing some research, you can pinpoint the concerns your customers face so you can tailor your services and products to better meet your community’s needs.

Appraise Your Assets

Assess your company’s infrastructure, finances, inventory, customer base, suppliers, and other resources essential to business operations. Decide which aspects of your business are still valid and which are no longer relevant, taking into account the changes the virus has wrought. This will enable you to make the transition your business requires to carry on.   

Evaluate the placement and productivity of your employees to ensure that people are being utilized where they can do the most good, particularly those who are working remotely. Encourage remote workers to invest in a home warranty to keep their home workspaces viable — and avoid wasting valuable staff power on disruptions caused by major home repairs. Also, provide remote workers with the equipment they need to establish a professional home office, as this will enhance their effectiveness. 

Protect Your Workforce 

Your employees are the backbone of your business, so you should be concerned about their physical and mental wellbeing. By taking measures that protect your workers’ health and welfare, you show concern for their basic needs. Listen to your employees when they express concerns about health and safety, and act upon them promptly. 

Research shows that proper hand washing and sanitizing can reduce absenteeism by up to 40%. Make sure your workers have all the personal protective equipment (PPE) they need — including disposable masks and gloves, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes — to keep them safe on the job. 

The pandemic has made health and safety major priorities for businesses, requiring your company to re-evaluate the ways you configure and treat every space. This includes hygienic standards. If you need to spread restroom traffic across more facilities, the porta-potty rental industry (which recommends one toilet per 10 employees) may provide a temporary solution for your workforce until permanent arrangements can be made.

Also, notify your staff immediately and keep them updated about any infections in your workforce. Inform them of measures you’re taking in response, and monitor the progress of any infected workers’ recovery. 

Prepare for Increased — then Diminished — Demand 

During the lockdown, it was only natural for businesses to cut back on production and reduce inventory in response to diminished demand for products and services. Although temporary reductions may have cushioned the financial blow, be careful not to cripple your company’s comeback by cutting back too far. 

In several states, when people emerged from the first wave of the pandemic, out-of-the-gate demand sent consumer spending upward initially. But a return to lockdown in many places and a bleak global economy curtailed that rise. Like most pandemic-related situations, market fluctuations can be confusing and contradictory. 

By devising plans preparing for either increased demand or diminished sales — or both, in succession — you can get one step ahead of the competition in meeting the needs of your community.

Expand Marketing and Sales Channels 

If you’ve been operating through only one marketing or sales channel, your business will be severely limited in what you can offer consumers. To succeed during and after the pandemic, you’ll need to explore more widespread options. 

Flexibility can open many doors. If you’re normally a brick-and-mortar shop, create an online business to appeal to people who are more comfortable shopping from home. You can market your e-store online through your company’s website and social media posts. 

Online retail was one of the fastest-growing industries before the pandemic. Imagine how much more effective (and successful) it can be during a pandemic.  

Adapt Workplace Policies

You may need to amend workplace policies to make them more relevant to your employees’ needs, taking into account the effect the pandemic has had on their lives.

By re-evaluating your company’s policies for paid sick leave, vacation time, remote work, scheduling, child care, and communications between HR and management, you can see if they’re hitting the mark in serving your employees. If not, you’ll need to adjust where it’s necessary to accommodate your workers’ changing needs.

Consider Long-Term Initiatives 

Once you’ve regained your footing, start looking ahead to the future. If you had long-term business initiatives on the table before the pandemic, take time to review them to see if they’re still on point. If they’re not, start researching projects that make more sense in our changed world. 

You may be tempted to abandon former leads because of the uncertainty of these times. This, however, could be a big mistake, as it might limit how you take your business forward into the future. Learning how to handle new circumstances and conditions (or a whole diverse set of them) is one way to take your business ingenuity to your community.   

Evaluate where you’ve been and where you’re headed, taking into account the changing needs of your employees and clients. As you do, you’ll be equipped to not only reboot your business but also reimagine it in ways that can lead to sustainability and success.

About the author

Ann Lloyd, Student Savings Guide


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