The current global pandemic will have a tremendous impact on the economy worldwide. It’s already resulting in millions of people losing their jobs and a lot of companies closing down. Naturally, not all industries are affected the same way, but it is certain that the COVID-19 pandemic is changing the way we do business today. Most bigger companies find it a bit easier to cope with the situation, but many smaller ones are struggling. Read on to see how small businesses should react to the outbreak and what you can do to mitigate the impact of coronavirus on your small business.
Prevention is better than cure
Since the cure for the coronavirus still does not exist, prevention is all that we can do at the moment. Every individual has to understand that they are responsible for their own health as well as for the safety of others around them. The trouble with COVID-19 is that it is easily transmitted from one person to another and that is why prevention is so important. What you as an employer can do is to provide a safe environment for your workers. Minimize the health risks that might be affecting all of you at the moment by:
- encouraging positive hygiene habits – make sure that the working areas are clean at all times and that the workers have the necessary supplies for their personal hygiene at work (soap, warm water, hand sanitizers, and sanitizing wipes).
- providing protective equipment – face masks and gloves are what every worker must have in order to protect themselves and others from the infection.
- making sure that the workers are able to keep a distance from each other so that they can work safely – if their desks are too close, think about installing cubical dividers or some other separators.
- moving a business to a smaller space – if that’s what it takes to keep your employees healthy and safe at work, you should consider doing it. After sending some of them to work from home, this could be a good way to save some money on rent as well.
Working from home is the safest way for your employees to be productive
Of course, not every job can be done from home, but many can. If you own a production line, it might be impossible to consider implementing a work-from-home policy. In such cases, you should focus on providing maximum care for each and every employee while at work. Think about introducing shifts to minimize the chances of transmission. However, all other jobs that can be done remotely should be. If your workers have children whose schools and childcare facilities have been closed due to the coronavirus outbreak, they would probably have to stay at home anyway, so why not ask them to work from home?
According to official data, the number of people working from home was growing steadily even before the pandemic occurred. After this bitter experience, the chances are that the number of remote workers will remain at a high level even when the pandemic is over. There are many benefits of working from home for both the employer and the employees, so you should definitely give it a chance.
Change what needs to be changed in order to mitigate the impact of coronavirus on your small business
If your company depends on the import from China or any other area where businesses are slowing down, it is more than clear that your production will suffer too. Some industries are more affected by the crisis than others, and unfortunately, there is nothing you can do about it. What you can do is try to change your approach.
The supply chain
For instance, you should think about changing the supply chain, if you can. Maybe you can find local raw materials instead of waiting for the ones that are late. For restaurants, that would mean negotiating with local farms and food manufacturers instead of importing (don’t forget that many countries have suspended their export, so running low on your imported goods might only be a matter of time).
Since we do not know how much longer the pandemic might last, it might be a good idea to include some items that are currently in demand into your standard offer. For example, if you own a small clothing line, you can start producing face masks too. Send one with every online order you receive or be socially responsible by donating some to the medical workers and all other people who are working hard to keep us healthy, fed, or informed. This is where your visibility on Instagram and other social platforms can play an important part. Even if you have to invest in some digital marketing ideas, it would be money well spent.
Were you selling your products or services online before the pandemic? If not, it is about time you started now. Social distancing is a measure that simply has to be respected in times like these, but at the same time, it leads to changing some of our habits dramatically. People are no longer able to go to their favorite stores and pick the products they would like to purchase on the spot. Nor can they go to their usual restaurants to share lunch with their friends and colleagues. However, companies selling their products online likely won’t suffer serious losses since they are still able to sell. The restaurants that have turned to delivery and pick up services also stand a chance to survive this terrible period.
Seek financial alternatives
If you are stressing about your finances, you should know that you are not alone. The pandemic is already taking its toll on many small businesses’ performance. In order to survive and keep their companies liquid, many owners are turning to the financial alternatives offered by their governments or banks. To help mitigate the impact of coronavirus on your small business, they offer:
- small business loans – the interest rates are lower, so maybe this is your chance to fight the economic slowdown;
- merchant cash advance – more expensive, but a quicker option for when you need money for your business ASAP;
- a business line of credit – a certain amount of money is available to you at all times and you only pay the interest rates when and if you use it.
- suspending mortgage payments and no-interest loans for companies that do not lay off their employees – check whether any of these options are available in your area.
It is clear now that no small business will remain intact during and after this pandemic. We can only hope that the situation will soon improve and that we will suffer minimal consequences during the recession. At the moment, the most important thing to do is to protect ourselves, the ones we love and the ones we work with.
Kelly Fox was born and raised in Miami. She started her blog-writing career during high school and after twenty years of experience, she is still just as passionate about writing as she’s always been, working as a freelances for companies like miamimoversforless.com. Her résumé also includes several years spent as a financial adviser in a local clothing line company. Her favorite things to do are surfing and hiking with her friends.