COVID-19 has created a climate ripe with unforeseen circumstances. Most of us, both professionally and personally, did not prepare for the reality this pandemic brought into actuality. Physical distancing means many businesses have had to adjust their working hours and conditions. And, in some cases, that means they’ve had to let employees go and shutter their doors.
At the time of publishing this article, social distancing guidelines have been extended through the end of April, and it could potentially continue through summer. A fourth relief initiative to help businesses is being looked at, once the data of the currently created one can be measured. In the meantime, there are some steps and measures you can take to help your business.
Small Business Administration Loans, Tax Deferrals, and Grants
In the United States, 58.9 million people, or over 47% of our workforce, are employed with a small business. As such, securing assets to prevent these companies from permanently closing is imperative to our economy. In response to COVID-19, the U.S. Government has increased funding for affected businesses.
- Low-interest loans up to $2 million are available, which will help cover costs such as lease and payroll. When your state has declared a state of emergency, loan applications will be available through email or online. Another option is to apply through your local Small Business Development Center office.
- Payment has been deferred until July 15th if you own up to $1 million in taxes. Payroll taxes may also be deferred, and pre-payment plans may also be extended.
- Private loans and grants through banks, foundations, and other businesses are available to help small businesses stay afloat. The government will have over $350 billion available for companies that employ under 500 people, which will be overseen by the Small Business Administration.
Read more on how to survive COVID-19 from the U.S. Chamber: Resources To Help Your Small Business
Protect Your Employees
So many companies, across many industries, have fully transitioned their teams to remote work. Stay transparent with them through your company’s communication channel. Schedule one on ones with team members to find out how they’re doing. Not just work-related, but personally, as well. Set clear expectations for each team and individual, so there are no surprises.
Now is an excellent opportunity to learn about your employees.
Hold Your Network Close
Even if you had to close your doors, keeping those virtual windows open will be crucial. Stay connected to your customers online. Let them know what your company is doing during this time, just as it is important to remain transparent with your employees. The same holds for your clients and customers. In the end, this will create a tighter knit community. Once they are allowed to close the physical distance gap, customers will come back to you to fill their needs in the same way you tried to fill theirs during tough times.
Have information expressing how your company is handling COVID-19 on display. Whether it’s on your store’s door, a post on your website, or a pinned update on your social platforms. Your audience will be watching you more than ever. And, like Santa’s naughty or nice checklist, they’ll be keeping tabs on who they consider is handling it right or wrong.
Learn how to utilize the Nextdoor app to reach your audience more effectively.
Give And You May Receive
Right now, your strategy could be focusing on goodwill and giving back, providing useful, enlightening, or entertaining content across all your platforms. If there is a way to involve your company in community outreach, this is a good time to do that. But, stay smart and safe about it.
It was mentioned earlier, but it is worth repeating. Brands, big and small, are under scrutiny right now. Like elephants, people will remember who did what when this is all over. You want to be one of the businesses people remember fondly. Because, when we reach the other side of this pandemic, consumer’s money will go back into companies that did good things when the community needed it the most.
Rebuilding When The All-Clear Whistle Blows
In the meantime, while we are all struggling to figure out what comes next, effort should also be put into what reopening, relaunching, rebuilding–what that will look like. This will be a different approach for everyone. For some companies, it will merely be flipping over the closed sign to read ‘open’, and flicking on the lights. For others, it could take months, or even years, to regain the momentum lost during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tips for Small Businesses
- Consider a different, but temporary, business model. For example, corporations are transforming their operations to make hand sanitizers instead of perfume, face masks instead of clothing, and ventilators instead of cars.
- Smaller-scale options could be online ordering, webinars for conferences, online classes for salons.
- Focus on your business. Many companies’ digital assets go by way of the shoemaker’s daughter. So much effort goes into the client’s business that it leaves little room to work on your own company’s matters. Now is the perfect time to re-do that website or paint those walls.
- Go all in online, if possible. Many stores may be able to transition to online sales entirely. It could be a way to mitigate significant financial instability.
Not going to lie, the next few months are going to be trying on all of us. But, it’s become undeniable that we are all in this together, and we will all do our part to make sure we come out of this dark time victorious.