This is a very difficult time for business owners. As the COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis continues to impact companies across the world, we understand that you’re worried about how you’re going to make it through. To help your business survive this tough period, we’ve suggested 12 tips to keep in mind.
The COVID-19 crisis has brought along unprecedented challenges that are threatening businesses across the globe. To brace your business for the effects of COVID-19, you’ll need to act decisively, mitigate risk and protect your employees and customers. Hopefully, these tips can help your business adapt at a time when we’re a far cry from normality.
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1. Stay informed
Keep up to date with all the official information on COVID-19 and any recommendations from the Government, as well as any help you might be able to access to keep your business going. However, if you’re feeling anxious it can be beneficial to take breaks from watching or reading news stories, including social media. Stick to checking in once or twice a day and avoid doing so just before bed.
It’s important that you take an empirical approach, guided by experts, in order to understand what’s going on and to overcome a business crisis. How the COVID-19 crisis will unfold precisely is unpredictable but consulting multiple sources of expert opinion is the best way to make sense of the complex and ever-changing information.
2. Follow public health advice
Naturally, if you fall ill, it’s going to be hard to keep your business going. To keep yourself in the best possible health, make sure you’re washing your hands regularly and avoiding touching your face. According to the NHS website these are the guidelines you should follow to minimise your risk of contracting COVID-19.
- Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when get home or into work and before eating meals
- Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water aren’t available.
- Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth if hands aren’t clean.
- No handshakes
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and put it in the bin immediately then wash hands
- Avoid close contact with people with symptoms
- Avoid public transport, if you can
- Work from home, if you can
- Avoid social activities and events with large groups of people
- Don’t have visitors to your home including friends and family
3. Keep staff in the loop
Making sure to communicate and be transparent with employees is one of the most important things you can do. They are, of course, going to be concerned about their health and how they will continue working to support themselves. They will also probably be exposed to lots of conflicting information from the media and will highly appreciate it if you communicate your policies clearly and promptly. This is already a stressful time – help your staff out by keeping them updated as often as you can.
4. Make a list of how it could impact your business
Lots of businesses are going be impacted in terms of sales, staff availability, supply chain and cash flow. By listing existing and possible future issues, you can do your best to plan out how you’re going to work through them. The earlier you start planning, the better chance you’ll have of coming up with a sustainable strategy for weathering the economic storm.
It’s important to constantly re-evaluate how you plan to deal with what’s happening based on the daily situation. You should create a living document with your best current view so you can adapt in a situation that is rapidly changing.
5. Try to stabilise supply chains
Even if your industry doesn’t seem to be affected by COVID-19, you might still run into trouble if global lockdowns interrupt your supply chain. If you’re able, it’s wise to make sure you’ve got additional safety stocks of the things you need to keep your business going. You can also look into using different resources for the time being, or working directly with suppliers to solve bottlenecks. If it’s not possible to find a solution straight away, implement interim solutions that allow your business to carry on functioning, even if it’s not at its most efficient or cost-effective over a longer term.
6. Perform a financial health check and re-do your budgets
Being familiar with your business’ financial health will make it easier to decide your next steps and how you’re going to keep your business going through the COVID-19 crisis. After you’ve worked out how you’re going to be impacted, re-do your budgets with your accountant and cut out unnecessary expenses. Consider how situations like a drastic decline in sales or a supplier not being able to provide you with a key item over X number of months would impact your cash flow.
If you are experiencing financial difficulty, we recommend seeking professional advice as soon as possible. Most creditors will want to work with you to find a solution, rather than heading straight down the legal route. And, as this is an unprecedented global situation impacting virtually every industry, many legislative protections may soon be in place to help you through this period. Keep yourself up-to-date on any financial assistance your government might be offering.
Ask yourself honestly if you have the necessary financial reserves to cover debts due and payable, and if you can pay creditors, tax obligations, staff wages and make loan repayments. If you can’t, your business is it risk of being insolvent, so seek advice immediately.
7. Focus on online sales strategy
During the COVID-19 crisis, you need to identify areas where you can continue to drive revenue growth. To remain viable when less customers are about you need to start to or increase how much you sell online. You’ll need to shift your sales strategy to limit losses. Assess which online platforms are best suited for your business needs.
You can also find ways to keep employees on the pay roll by getting them to promote your products on social media, send out emails or use videos to connect with customers and reach new leads. Wherever you can, use technology to continue your operations and to engage with customers virtually.
8. Invest in work-from-home technology
At the time of writing, the Government is asking everyone in the UK to stop non-essential contact with other people and work from home wherever possible. While most of us have a phone, laptop and internet connection, it’s important to make sure the whole team has the tools to complete their normal role remotely. So, this might mean setting up internal communication programs and a virtual private network (VPN), so you can access shared filed securely.
Using instant messaging is a good way to maintain instant two-way communication. Henry Albrecht, CEO of employee engagement software company, Limeade, uses his platform’s internal communications feature to interact with staff:
We also have the ability to ask people to take a quiz so they can tell us if they need more information on something
9. Give employees some leeway
The situation is ever-changing across the world, and many countries have seen schools, offices, shops and all non-essential businesses closing. Even if this isn’t the case where you are, you need to be flexible with your employees’ time as things evolve. If they can’t get day care for their child, it might be more productive for them to work in the evening, rather than stick to the traditional 9-5. It’s about pulling together and taking your employees individual needs into consideration and supporting them the best you can.
Make sure to have a contingency plan in place in case lots of your staff members become ill.
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10. Be honest with your customers/clients
In these turbulent times, your customers will really appreciate you being transparent about what your business is going through. Be open about the steps you are taking to mitigate risk and help your employees and the community.
11. Prepare for the next crisis
Nobody knows quite how long the COVID-19 crisis will go on for and it’s hard to think too far into the future right now. But even if it’s resolved quickly and your business is minimally impacted, another public health or economic crisis is almost certain to happen. If possible, do your best to plan for it now. Preparing for the next crisis before it’s here will be much more effective than reacting the best you can when the crisis hits.
12. Be part of the broader solution
As a corporate citizen you should try your best to support others in your industry, community and supply chain. Think about how your business can use your specific capability, for example communications or food, to help the acute social needs of the public.
The next few months aren’t going to be easy and the COVID-19 crisis has the potential to change the way we live and work. We hope these tips help your business adapt and that you weather the storm the very best you can in this challenging, frightening time. Click here to see everything the UK Government is going to support businesses through the crisis.
Becky Martin, Point Franchise ©