Covid-19 and lockdown have naturally hit smaller businesses harder than most, as companies struggle with cash flow and a completely changed consumer landscape. This means that to survive this crisis, SMEs need to be willing to adapt.
Thankfully while Covid-19 presents a huge range of challenges for organisations, it also is a moment with plenty of opportunities. Here are some of the things that your small business can do to survive the Covid-19 crisis.
Make important information available
The first thing to note here is that it is essential that you make information available and easily accessible. Covid-19 has created confusing and unprecedented times – many people are unsure whether businesses are operating, whether they are working as usual, or if things have changed. That is why it is important to provide information about the current status of your business everywhere you can.
You could certainly have a banner message on your site to let everyone know about your current operational status. Take a look below at how booksellers Waterstones have placed a banner at the top of their page warning customers about potential delays, but reassuring them that this business is still operational and providing a link to further information.
Follow government advice closely
While businesses may not always be delighted by the government’s decisions – such as ordering the closure of all non-essential businesses, and asking everyone to remain indoors – these are in place for a reason, and it is important that all companies follow these rules, and any others than the government put forward.
Flouting these rules could see your business fined, and even worse, it could give potentials customers a negative opinion of your company. Instead, try to adapt and work within the laws in place.
Provide different options to clients
For many businesses, Covid-19 and the resulting lockdown has created a situation where it is no longer possible to offer the same services as in the past. For others, it has meant that previous bookings or purchases can no longer be honoured, and puts into doubt whether the business will be able to handle its previous commitments stretching out into the future.
It can seem in some cases that they may be no option but to cancel orders to refund customers on their current bookings. However, it can actually be a much better idea to provide alternative options. For businesses in hospitality and leisure, it’s a great idea to contact clients about their bookings and see if they are interested in pushing it back to a date when restrictions have lifted.
Another smart solution is being offered by experience day providers Q Leisure who may not currently be able to offer their range of activities – but have instead begun promoting gift vouchers for future use. This is a smart way to keep the income going and encouraging future bookings.
Be ready to be flexible
Now is the time for businesses to embrace more flexible ways of working. While you may have a way that you have run your SME for many years, it might not be possible to do some in the current climate. That makes that you might have to embrace things such as flexible working policies, or changing up previously crucial aspects of the business.
Trying to stand firm and not make any changes simply will not work when we face such a world-altering event.
Look for savings (but never cut ties)
There is a natural inclination towards making savings. And for many businesses, this means stopping orders or purchases from suppliers and cancelling contracts with outsourced partners. Whilst it is good to make savings on your outgoings, it is unwise to cut ties with companies that you have worked with for a long time.
When normality resumes you may find those businesses no longer willing to work with you. This may make it much harder for your company to recover.
Re-focus your efforts on other parts of the business
Finally, it is worth saying that while some aspects of your business may be impossible to run during the Covid-19 lockdown, there may be other opportunities created elsewhere. You should look for different parts of your business that do work. Small retailers, for example, are improving their websites and offering online services more than ever before.