Small businesses are especially vulnerable during this latest public health crisis. Supply chain issues, voluntary social distancing by customers, fear among employees about short term layoffs (not to mention their own health concerns) and financial management are just a few of the challenges that face the small business owner.
Circumstances like these, however, also provide opportunities to actually advance the success of your business by being proactive, communicating powerfully, and keeping a proper perspective on how all this will probably play out. Here are 5 actions you can take that will help you to feel in charge of the situation.
Check in with your banker
Take some time to take stock of your financial situation and review your bank statements with your banker. There are discussions that the government may be looking at offering interest-free loans to small businesses and these will probably go through your local bank. Make certain that your relationship is solid and that your latest financials are on file and current.
Create clean spaces
Make certain that your workplace has a health-oriented mindset to it. Review basic hygiene issues with your employees including hand-washing, coughing into elbows, and ways to greet one another without shaking hands. This is especially important with sales and front desk people who will want to be sensitive to client’s concerns. Check in with your health insurer to find out about benefits and procedures in case the virus reaches your community.
Check in with your team
Most people are a bit confused about exactly how to feel about the virus. Most of us are not in real danger of contracting the illness but that could change. Of greater concern is the potential financial impact to your employees. While Amazon may be able to continue to pay people, in the interim period, many small businesses may be able to do that for a short period of time before funds run out. Listen to what your folks are saying so that you fully understand their concerns.
Get your messaging right
Honesty is the best policy in creating your communication message. You don’t want to create a panic situation and while you don’t have to tell people everything you know, you want to make sure you tell them what they need to know. For example, if you are prepared to pay your staff for 45 days even if business is faltering, let them know that you are committed to paying them for the time being and if that changes, you’ll try to give them as much lead time as possible.
Take care of yourself
Along with good personal hygiene, having a strong immune system is the best way to stay healthy and be sharp in your thinking. Eating well, sticking with your exercise routine, and continuing to do things that you enjoy will keep your mind fresh and your ideas sharp. Your business needs you at your best.
We are already seeing a reduction in the number of new cases in China where this all began which may suggest that this virus has a relatively short lifespan of fame. It is not unreasonable, however for things to get worse elsewhere before they get better. As a small business owner you have an opportunity to let your team know that you get it and are ready to take action to protect them and your business