We have been hearing daily from many small business clients that are experiencing big challenges to survive during the Covid-19 pandemic. Many are facing a continued decline in sales and orders. As a business owner, this creates an anxiety and uncertainty that the business may not survive, and the feeling of having little control. Not only are you responsible for your own business, your livelihood, but all as well as the livelihoods of your employees. And this can, no doubt, feel very overwhelming. While we can’t control a lot during this challenging time period, there are things that you can control.
For example, what is that one thing you have been putting off, that you know you need to do to potentially set your business up for increased future success? If this quarantine time had not come, you might not have ever gotten the opportunity to work on it. As a small business owner, how can you use this restrictive time to make progress in your business by taking action on whatever it is? Maybe it’s business and strategic planning, a website overhaul, a branding reboot, or researching a new market that your business could enter. Included with this blog is a short reading article called, Actions Make the Difference that may be helpful.
Whatever it is, take action! When this time passes, we really hope you can reflect on the positive things that you got to work on during this time that helped to make your business stronger in the long run, because we want you to Progress – Not Panic!
Here are 5 things you can do now to take action:
#1 – Stay Focused
With everything going on in our world now, staying focused is harder than ever. The large volume of news and information related to Covid-19 comes at us in real time, tempting us to divert our attention away from our business. Trying to digest all of it not only distracts us, but may increase our stress and worry. Whether you are working from home or are able to work at your place of business, setting boundaries and a daily schedule is ideal. Limit your news alerts to those most relevant to you and your business only, and don’t be afraid to mute communication channels, so you can keep your eyes on assuring your business weathers this storm. There are many great no-cost task apps available that can assist you with staying focused.
#2 Engage Your Team
Your team has been vital to your businesses success in the past, and they will be crucial to its ability to survive this storm. Number one is to assure your team’s safety and mental health during this time, and establishing clear, consistent communication with them is key. You may also need to lay off some of your staff, or reduce their hours, so having these honest discussions may be necessary.
Let your employees know that you may need to make a shift in their work duties and explain to them how that might look. Informed, and engaged employees are empowered and dedicated. As a leader of your business, including your employees in your survival and recovery strategy is vital for generating new ideas and innovation. Think of new, virtual ways to communicate regularly with your team, including collaboration tools and videoconferencing. You may try holding virtual brainstorming sessions and soliciting their input on how to help the business by do things differently than before. Make it an empowering exercise where all employees feel valued and part of a great team effort.
#3 Build Your Survival & Recovery Team
Yes we have to physically distance at this time, but don’t isolate yourself from people and organizations that can potentially help you. At this critical time, you should be thinking of who you need on your survival and recovery team. Don’t be shy to ask for help from service providers such as the Ohio SBDC and many other great resources in the communities.
To build your survival and recovery team, start thinking of the various pieces of the puzzle you need, identifying gaps that will need filled. Your accountant, banker, lawyer and insurance advisor should be on this team. Building your recovery team can be the catalyst to allow your company to survive and thrive. Included with this blog is the Growthwheel Worksheet Rescue Team that will help you to map out your survival and recovery team. This worksheet will allow you to dig deep, thinking through the key members you need to get your business back on track.
#4 Take Care of You
You are no good to your business and staff if you are not taking care of yourself. We are going through a time now that most, if not all of us, have never experienced. It may feel strange, almost like we are in some strange parallel universe. The uncertainty many of us feel, can weight on our stress levels, making us feel out of control. Taking positive actions in our daily activities towards saving and reviving our business will be so powerful for our well-being. Exercise, even just walking around our office or neighborhoods, will do wonders to make us feel less stressed and more in control. Stress makes us do crazy things. Think before you send that email or post that response. With this blog is included a Growthwheel Worksheet Personal Challenges, that we think you will find helpful.
#5 Consistent Contact: Customers and Vendors
Keeping consistent contact with your existing customer base, as well as your vendors, will increase the likelihood that they will stay loyal. Part of your Covid-19 crisis communications plan should include specifics on any changes in your hours of operation, with regular updates as needed. Important also is clear communication on what safety procedures and precaution you have put in place, or if they might experience delays in customer service or receiving of their orders. Establish a communications plan that assures customers that you value their business and care about their health and safety, as well as that of your team members.
We know it’s a challenging time right now. But the small businesses in our communities across Ohio are strong and resilient, just like their founders. So our suggestion is that you decide to face these challenges head on, by taking action today! Yes, you and your business will come through this pandemic likely different than before. But we firmly believe if you are willing to take action now, stay focused, work hard and smart, that your business can emerge being stronger than ever.