Over the past year, small business owners have been through the wringer.
Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, some have even had to grapple with the idea of selling their venture. Many others have had to pull back on their in-person operations, transitioning to a mostly remote workforce and scrambling to retain a steady stream of clients.
With the prospect of getting back to business as usual looming on the horizon, you’ve got some big decisions to make about how you’re going to approach the upcoming transition.
Beyond lingering concerns over the effects of coronavirus, there are debates to be had about whether or not your team should make a return to the office, how you’ll make that move, and potential changes your business will need to make to stay competitive.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you prepare to reopen your business.
Many businesses learned that successfully managing a remote workforce is a new beast in its own way. While figuring out how to transition to a telework setup was hard enough, now thinking about moving back into the office may pose even more significant challenges for your team. An even bigger question that you’ll have to answer first, however, is whether or not it’s the right move for you to make.
On the one hand, staying all-digital cuts down on expenses like leasing an office. For some teams, remote work improves efficiency by getting rid of that morning commute, improving work-life balance, and eliminating those annoying office distractions.
On the other hand, not all businesses are a good fit for remote teams. If you’re one of the many that had to make a quick, last-minute transition because of the pandemic, chances are you took a substantial hit to your productivity and your team still isn’t working at the peak of its potential.
You’ll need to weigh these pros and cons as you consider what the best path is for your business. Will you continue working in a remote capacity? Try to return to the office? Or attempt a hybrid system that tries to blend the best of both worlds?
During the height of the pandemic, you may have noticed an uptick in cybercriminals running phishing scams in an attempt to prey upon you or other business owners’ desperation. Unfortunately, they won’t be going away as things start to open back up, and they’re likely to try to target you with a new set of schemes.
According to the FTC, one of the latest ruses involves impersonating the Small Business Administration, purporting to offer loans to struggling businesses. In truth, fraudulent correspondence is just a means to siphon your personal details so that they can steal your identity.
There will be plenty of these emails coming your way as 2021 rolls on. Keep your eyes peeled, don’t hand out personal details haphazardly, and do what you can to verify the identity of anyone sending you suspicious messages.
As businesses start to reopen, many are having to contend with the fact that they had to drastically reduce their total number of employees to stay afloat during the pandemic. States like New York lost nearly 2 million jobs, and to date have only recovered half that number.
Achieving business success will likely require you to replace some of your lost talent, and for that, you’ll need to adjust your hiring strategies to compete with all the other businesses that will be scrambling to bring new employees aboard.
For instance, you’ll want to properly incentivize prospects to choose working for you over rival businesses, so you may consider increasing the base pay on some of the roles within your organization and upping the benefits you’re offering to new hires.
Generous sick leave policies, medical insurance, and access to mental health services are just some of the perks that employees are after in this post-pandemic society, so if you have the money to swing it, give some serious thought to offering these to attract new talent and retain your existing team.
While reopening will be seen as a return to normalcy in many respects, you’ll need to take into consideration the fact that many aspects of business won’t be going back to the way they were before the pandemic, at least not for a long while.
It’s important to think of how you should update your business after COVID-19 to meet new challenges, stay ahead of your competition, and meet the demands of your clients. For example, even with people getting vaccinated for Coronavirus, there are going to be customers who are wary of close personal contact. They may shy away from coming to a physical location to do business.
Therefore, you’ll want to continue your digital and contactless offerings where you can, and maybe even think of ways to improve upon such services to offer more value to your customers and get ahead of your competitors.
Make sure you’re looking at the different ripples left in wake of the pandemic, as they’re ripe for ideas that savvy entrepreneurs can pounce off to get an edge.
COVID may have forced big changes onto your businesses when it first arrived on the scene, and now that restrictions are starting to lift, it might be doing the same yet again.
There’s a lot you’ll need to account for during this transition, but it will also be a time that’s replete with opportunities. Keep your eyes peeled for ways that you can improve while simultaneously managing the challenges of re-opening, and you’ll put yourself in the best position for growing your business long-term.