Running a business can be hectic even without a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic. There are seasonal demands, bad partnerships, poor financial plans, employee absenteeism, unsatisfied customers, and so much more.
A lot of stuff could go wrong along the way, but we’re generally used to it. It’s just business. We can sit in a corner or take the bull by the horns and do better.
But now we’re witnessing an unprecedented crisis that’s shaking the ground beneath our feet and feeding us with the fear of uncertainty. Our hands may be tied a bit, but there’s still a lot we can do to ensure business survival.
While you’re making a plan for managing the coronavirus crisis, consider taking these five steps:
1. Adapt Your Sales to New Conditions
If the coronavirus crisis is making you work from home, it doesn’t mean that all hope is lost. You may lose some sales if you were operating offline, but that doesn’t mean your business will wither and die.
You just have to find some creative ways to adapt your business to coronavirus.
Do you run a brick-and-mortar store that you had to close temporarily because of the COVID-19? Were you relying only on in-person sales before the crisis?
If you were, then it’s time to spruce things up a bit.
Let’s say you’re in retail. You can easily sell your products online. Set up an online store or create a Facebook page where you’ll display your products.
You’ll help your business stay afloat, your employees get their paycheck, and your customers feel a little better.
The best part is you can continue doing it after the crisis. It’s a fact that online shopping can bring you incredibly more customers.
Some stores are even allowing customers to browse their products using FaceTime. They virtually walk around the store, select what they need, and either pick it up or wait for curbside delivery.
If you run a restaurant, you can start delivering food. If that’s not feasible, you can think about making meals for those in need so they can order and pick them up.
Again, you can spread the word on social media. You may inspire a lot of people to buy and donate meals. Giving back to the community always leads to more business.
If your business is service-oriented, you can also shift your sales online. That is if your business model allows it.
For instance, if you run a fitness studio, you can start live-streaming workout classes during the outbreak. A lot of people will appreciate it, what with the constant sitting around at home and stuffing our faces. You can help us burn all those calories.
What if you’re an interior designer? You can consult with your clients virtually. You can also take it to Instagram, where you’ll ask people to share photos of their interior design ideas. That’s one of the fun ways you can stay in touch with your audience.
Whichever service you’re offering, your business doesn’t have to stop during the pandemic. You can keep offering them online.
You don’t even need to sell anything. Communicating and engaging with your community is what they need the most right now.
2. Extend Your Reach
Staying connected with your audience online is a benefit in itself because you can retain existing and attract new customers.
But going digital can open the door to a wealth of other possibilities too. You can potentially expand your market to entirely new audiences.
Can you take over a whole new market?
Take distilleries, for example. Many of them had to close all tours and wine tasting rooms, so they found a way to keep operating and help the community.
In the U.S., over 600 distilleries are now making hand sanitizer to help people maintain good hygiene and stay healthy during the COVID-19 outbreak. Lots of them are giving it for free.
Now, you may not be able to make any products for disinfection, but you can surely help in some other way.
Whatever it is, do you think you could give it away for free? We’re not suggesting you lose money, but we’re all finding out that material stuff doesn’t matter that much.
Yes, it’s important for your business survival, but do you know what else is? Loyalty.
Providing products or services for free during this trying time will help you expand to entirely new markets and build customer loyalty.
It’s great marketing; much better than trying desperately to sell and capitalize on a crisis that has people losing their battle with the virus.
3. Join Forces with Other Businesses
Is there a way for you to partner up with other organizations to keep your business afloat? For instance, if you own a restaurant, is there a retailer who could sell your food?
You could prepare various meals and have a local grocery store to sell them for you. That would be a fantastic way to keep operating while helping the community eat healthier.
We’re sure lots of them are already tired of canned goods and other store-bought food. But what if you’re in a category of really struggling businesses during the pandemic? What if you own a flower shop or you’re in home décor? These two actually go perfectly together.
A home décor company can send flower bouquets to its customers to help them breathe new life into their homes. It can organize a promotion, encouraging people to place orders for a chance to receive beautiful bouquets with their deliveries.
It’s a great strategy for both businesses. For the flower shop, it’s a whole new marketing channel to tap into that would drive more customers to their door once the crisis is over.
4. Make a New Financial Plan
Almost every business is struggling with finances right now, as there are fewer sales and less revenue. But the expenses don’t go anywhere, so it can be quite challenging to cover them — especially if you’re a small business owner.
The highest expenses you have now are office rent, utility bills, and employee salaries.
Many businesses are letting their employees go because they can’t think of ways to both keep them and ensure business survival.
But try and think long-term. Keeping your employees during this challenging time will inspire their loyalty down the road. They won’t forget your support when they most needed it.
It may not seem very practical at the moment, but it’s a good idea for the future of your organization.
Instead of laying off employees, see what costs you can cut during the coronavirus crisis. Speak to your landlord and suppliers about options to cut or spread out some costs. Put on hold any expenses that aren’t very necessary for the time being.
The crisis won’t last forever, so you’ll get back on your feet soon enough once it’s over, especially if you retain all your employees.
5. Retrain Your Employees
Another thing you can do to help your business and employees, in the long run, is to offer employee training opportunities.
If your team is working from home, there’s your chance to help them upgrade their skills. You can utilize the best online training software to provide online courses, live virtual classes, and webinars.
If you let some of your staff go, you’d have to hire new employees later and train them all over again. You can upskill your existing teammates to ensure higher productivity and efficiency down the line.
Employee training tools may seem like an unnecessary expense right now. But the best online training software tools actually pay for themselves later on. And nearly all of them offer free trials without any commitments.
Over to You
Helping your business survive COVID-19 involves making some tough decisions. But if you adapt to new conditions, partner with other businesses, and reach out to new markets, you’ll come out stronger than before.
What’s more, if you stay connected with your customers and continue caring for your employees, you’ll get through this uncharted territory a lot better. You’ll inspire loyalty and forge strong relationships that may last a lifetime.
No one is saying it’s going to be easy. But it will be much easier if you follow these tips. They’ll help you add value to your community, which will bring more value to your business.