COVID-19 has brought wide-spread economic disruption and has shaken a lot of small businesses. Some businesses have suffered more damage than others, but no one is immune to the impacts of this pandemic. As we enter winter, small businesses need strategies to stay afloat and support from their local community.
We have identified a few areas of interest and compiled some tips that may help.
Take the time to study your finances. Involve your accountant and rely on their professional advice. Determine how much cash you have access to, how long it will last, your expenses, and what you need to pull in as revenue to stay afloat. Consider any financial aid programs offered by the local, provincial, and federal government. With all these factors in mind, create a plan for three months and a second plan for what you’ll do over six months.
Having the details laid out in front of you will help you determine where you might need to cut to make it work. For example, if your business-type allows it, moving to a remote workforce will remove the cost of leasing an office space.
Customer behaviour and expectations have shifted since the pandemic started. To manage their expectations, engage with your customers. Get their feedback on social media, through email campaigns, or in your place of business. You can find out how you can meet their current needs. It might mean moving to delivery options or opening an e-commerce store on your website. Don’t hold firmly to the old way of doing things. Explore new opportunities, be flexible, and create new ways to satisfy your customers.
Consider how technology can help you streamline things. Phone systems that use the internet, like VoIP, are cost-effective. Not only can it lower your telecommunications cost, but it can also help you better serve your customers with things like automated phone prompts and messages on hold. Technology can help free up your employee’s time, so they can focus on other growth strategies to help you survive the winter.
One of the biggest downfalls for many small businesses during this crisis is not having an in-depth continuity plan. We are living through very uncertain times. What will your business do if the government implements lock-down measures again? Will you be able to keep the business running in 6 months if things don’t improve? While it’s essential to focus on your daily operations, equip yourself with a long term plan.
Now more than ever, rely on your local community for support. Connect with other small businesses in your area. There are many of us out there that are in the same fight as you. We can connect, share ideas, experiences, send referrals, and offer support to one another. You might learn something from someone that can help your own business. The stronger the community is around you, the easier it is to weather a winter like the one we have approaching.
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