There’s no doubt that with a crisis looming, many business owners are trying to manage the Coronavirus business impact. There’s ample information out there about how to protect yourself and others from getting COVID-19. But there’s less information about how small business owners can manage the effect it will have on their livelihood.
In a future world, companies will get tax breaks for letting employees work from home. This cuts down on pollution and the ever-increasing commute times that people endure.
But as Coronavirus spreads, businesses must think about how they can deal with blockers. This might mean supply chain issues, lower store traffic, and employees taking time off.
That’s a lot to deal with. If you’re losing sleep at night over it, you’re not alone.
So I’ve put together a list of tactics that can help your business grow and thrive until they find a cure.
If You Have a Physical Business…
If you have a retail business, my heart goes out to you. This is going to be a tough time for you and your employees. But there are some things you can do to bridge the gap between your loyal customers and your store.
Put your products online. This sounds too simple to even be on here. But you’d be surprised how many retail stores do not showcase their inventory or even prices online.
For example, there’s a boutique clothing store near me. I always love their window displays and have wanted to stop a few times on my way home from work. But parking is a nightmare and I can’t tell if the sundresses are $50 or $200. So when I say they were having a 90% off sale, I went to their website. NONE of their inventory was online. I still have no idea how much their products cost, and parts of the site didn’t even work. Needless to say, I still haven’t made it in there.
I know that it’s a hassle to input and keep up with an inventory online. Plenty of other businesses have done it though, and if you want to increase your potential to earn, you can do it too.
Explore other supply chains. This is a common piece of advice that folks have been giving since the Coronavirus business impacts in China were seen and felt worldwide. If you use a commercial kitchen, consider a couple of backup places to make your goodies. If you work with factories, talk to them about their contingency plans. If you only use one company to ship your products, explore other options. Yes, some of this may cost more, and you can choose to either eat the cost or pass it on to the end consumer. You could even offer the difference as a discount on their next order. If you do pass it on, be transparent about why.
“Sorry our shipping cost is a little higher than normal! In order to keep shipping you the stuff you love, we’ve decided to work with another carrier through this Coronavirus outbreak. But when you place your order, we’ll send you a code to take the $2 difference off your next order. Thanks for understanding and we look forward to continuing our relationship with you.”
Understand that your customers are also nervous and hearing from brands they trust builds their loyalty.
Have hand sanitizer near the door. If you don’t already, you can put an automatic hand sanitizer near the door when people walk in and leave. This will help them feel safer while they’re shopping and shows that you care about their safety as well.
A Virtual Business…
If you have a virtual business, now is your time to thrive. Every virtual business has an ongoing backlog of fixes, updates, redesigns, etc. Now is your time to buckle down and focus on how you can optimize your offerings.
Start a blog. I know I’m a broken record on this, but a blog helps build a relationship with your customers. It gives them an insight into your company, the type of expertise you offer, and offers value before they spend their first dollar with you.
If you don’t have an editorial calendar, start one. If you have no one to write the content, learn how to do it yourself or explore freelance options. The best part about content is that the possibilities are as endless as you want them to be.
Give your employees the support to succeed. Many companies are able to let their employees work remotely. That shows your employees you care about their well being in letting them choose how much they are exposed to potential risks. But there’s also the risk you’ll disconnect from them. So give them everything they need to succeed at working remotely.
This could mean a weekly email newsletter highlighting your goals and tasks for the week. Consider doing more check-ins and 1:1s than normal. Since you can’t swing by their desks to see how they’re doing, this will show that you’re concerned about their well being. It will also help keep them motivated.
Take an online class. Whether you’ve been wanting to learn Python or you have some new design ideas for your site, now is the time to learn. When I go into the office, I have a 2 hour round trip commute. By getting those two hours back, I have a lot more time to work on my professional development. The same can be true for you. There are plenty of resources online where you can learn for free or at a low cost. Look around and take advantage of the time you’re given by cutting out a commute.
Coronavirus Business Impact Suggestions
I’m sure there are a ton of solutions I’m missing on here because business owners are some of the most resilient, creative people on the planet. If you’ve been doing something else to help your business stay steady during this difficult time, please share them in the comments below!