For small business owners, two things come to mind when a crisis arises: “What should I do?” and “Will my venture survive?” Most of them are either just starting their businesses or keeping them running. Any type of crisis, such as a global pandemic, can hit them hard and force them to shut down operations.
As bleak as it seems, there is always a sliver of hope. There are many ways to survive unfortunate circumstances such as these. Here is a simple guide for small business owners:
The first step to managing a crisis is to stay calm. Why is this important? Staying calm allows you to focus on essential things, such as your business and employees. It also helps you stay focused on finding the best strategies and solutions. Being calm also allows you to clear your mind of negative thoughts to avoid over-thinking. Treat the situation as an opportunity to improve your business and create plans to mitigate the negative impacts of the crisis.
Social and physical distancing is becoming a norm, but it shouldn’t prevent your business from being “social.” Industrial marketing consultants suggest that small businesses should strengthen their social media presence and use it to their advantage. Since most people are mandated to stay home, for their own sake, it is the perfect time to engage your customers.
Start by asking them how they are what your business can do to help them. If you are in a service-oriented industry, you can post how-to videos that do that on their own. If you operate a food business, offer delivery services for their convenience. Staying connected with customers helps you build brand loyalty and discover potential customers.
During a crisis, especially health-related ones, health should be a priority. Make sure to have you and your employees checked by a health professional. Your customers want assurance that your business was issued a clean bill of health. Set aside a budget for vitamins and supplements for your team. Adopt sanitation measures to ensure that your place of business is clean and safe. Health is wealth, and so are your employees.
Review your budget and realign if needed
Your budget is your business’s lifeline, and you need to assess it to cope up during a crisis. Review it to find ways to maximize your available funds. If you are a brick-and-mortar entrepreneur, negotiate rental fees with the building administrator as this will help you save on overhead costs. Ask your utility provider if they can offer discounts or defer payments at a later time. Further examine where to cut costs: decreasing inventory, unnecessary spending, or tweaking your products and services.
Also, before deciding on letting people go, it is best to address them as a group. Explain why you need to right-size your operations, and if you can, give them a separation package to help them out. Realign some of your money to fund this measure. Show them that you care and value their service.
Managing a crisis means being level-headed and making wise decisions. Consider problems as rooms for improvement and to be flexible. You are a business person, and you were trained for these types of situations. Stay strong!