Who would have thought that the businesses across the world will come to such a shocking standby?
As a small business owner, we all are concerned about how to survive this pandemic while our operations are on hold? – The major issue with most of us is the cash flow – mainly needed to pay the bills and salaries – which seems almost impossible during this lockdown as customers are advised to stay home.
According to the recent article published by Harvard Business School, the average small business has 27 days of cash in reserve. Some have even lesser.
But survival never should be the goal, but growth.
And unfortunately, this seems unclear how long it will remain like this. And nothing much about it that we can control.
More and more companies are adopting new ways to counter these unprecedented times. These small and mid-size businesses taking their operations online such as academic institutions, online companies, software houses, etc.
While other businesses with more conventional business models like restaurants, shops, retail, fashion, etc are the one are in more trouble.
These businesses especially those with less back-up trying every way possible to adapt to everything to avoid a complete shutdown.
Heres how you can create a force around your business that not help you survive as a business but enable you to turn this crisis into an opportunity.
1- COMMUNICATE TRANSPARENTLY
It doesn’t matter it’s your employees, customers or vendors. As everyone is facing this COVID-19 crisis together, so let’s make it our strength to fight this global uncertainty. Try spreading this spirit and convey this message across all the stakeholders that – #TogetherWeCan!
Once you started spreading the spirit, the next most crucial thing for you during this uncertain time is to communicate transparently.
Be transparent, clear and honest about what exactly your business is going through or might face in the near future so that anyone can take appropriate measures beforehand.
Customers can empathize with brands facing a crisis, as long as you communicate with them properly and whenever you do, it always turns out in a much better and positive way than expected.
Let them know you are more concerned for them than of your business. And put your customers above anything – You will all be surprised, that they won’t leave you alone too.
Be courageous and be honest!
Don’t panic, just make sure nobody will get affected by you and you are trying your level best to do everything you can within your capacity.
Everybody knows that resources are limited. So they will understand if they are properly communicated and have enough time to act. If you will be logical and honest rather emotional & diplomatic, so everyone else will be.
As a small business owner, you must develop a trust-based culture across the board.
If you are a business with not much of a financial backup to sustain this economical hit, make sure you first set a well defined, clear and realistic sales target and team goals across the board. This will help everyone to be well-aware of the targets and benchmarks for survival as one big family. As a return, everyone will collaborate more effectively. Make sure you and your managers define and set effective and realistic targets individually as well as for the teams.
Target dosn’t mean that you keep a huge profit in these special targets you set. It is just to make sure of your business’s financial need that you need ensure to avoid a shut down.
Avoid a bad idea of quick lay-off and immediate shuffles – This won’t help you out. This will only create trouble. This pandemic won’t stay forever but everyone else will. Anyone leaving you on a bad note will not remember you in a good way.
And you don’t have to be mean at all. You should value the time you have spent with them than the money you will have to spend on them to retain during these unprecedented times. Remember #TogetherWeCan! So, all this money you spend on them is not going anyway but will return back to you soon. If you will take care of your employees and customer, so they will. Just have faith in your family!
2- BE MORE FLEXIBLE
Be flexible about everything – time, effort and compensation – everything.
We can witness the fact that everything is on hold. Academic institutions across the globe are closed, many businesses and commercial centers are completely lockdown and uncertainty is everywhere. Nobody knows when they will resume and when they all will resume what conditions that be.
Thie pandemic has slow down the global economy, so it will the consumer spending.
Think smartly and reconsider ways how flexible you can be with everyone – be it your employees, customers, suppliers, and vendors.
If it’s your customer, think about what can be done. Weather in terms of duration of your contract, the price of your services or products, your product warranties, and subscription tenure.
Think if you can introduce discounts or can offer free services, or simply by extending your service tenure to your customers so that they don’t have to pay for renewal.
If it is your employees think about how you can create positivity and instill self-confidence among them.
As the working conditions have changed, so the outcome will be. Some of your employees will find it even better while others find it tougher. Some will have to do less while the other will find more load on them. Also, the uncertainty might take over your employees psychologically.
As a leader, you must boost them with enough psychological support that keeps them going through these uncertain times. Firstly, ensure that you will not leave them alone during this crisis.
Secondly, be human and sensible enough in every decision that you have to take to ensure your team is good to go. Make sure, whatever policies you introduce must not sound like “selling”.
Turn this crisis time into the best time for your brand to build a closer bond with your customers, employees, and vendors.
- We introduced 3 Months No-Lay Off Policy within our organization.
- We’ve already disbursed salaries (on 23rd March Instead of our routine payout date – 28th) as soon as the lockdown was announced so that our employees can take care of their families.
- Immediately we announced a 30% straight discount to all our on-going projects and projects in negotiations.
- We extended all our current subscriptions to 3 months more.
- We have introduced a flexible installment plan.
- We have introduced FREE consultancy for businesses that look after to shift to online model from conventional ways of operation.
- All of the above-mentioned offers are valid until 31 April 2020.
3- ADAPT TO NEW MANAGEMENT STYLE
Millions of people across the globe already adapted to this new trend of #work-from-home style.
This isn’t new for everyone. Some of the businesses were already having many of its operations and teams working for them remotely. But this time, it has to be strategic.
There is a long list of useful free tools businesses can utilize so that their teams can effectively stay together and keep working efficiently – #PhysicallyDistant – DigitallyConnected!
Also, create and implement a work-from-home work policy that offers incentives for your team to be more productive. This will ensure that they put their best and don’t get psychologically down with the #Quarantine-Phobia!
Ask your managers to have a chit-chat session before or after the sessions on a personal level, make sure they are psychologically in a good mental state.
Make your managers behave like a leader, and extend their best psychological support to everyone they lead. Make sure everyone feels safe and nobody’s left alone.
Develop a more day-to-day routine, so that no one is bothering others throughout the day. #WorkFromHome doesn’t have to be irritating but more effective.
This means to be more organized. It’s not rocket science. It just means that everyone is supposed to be well-prepared and organized beforehand about what-to-ask and what-to-convey before they are connected.
- Ask your team to make notes beforehand. (What-to-ask, what-to-convey, etc)
- Everybody to be given time separately during the video conference.
- One-by-One Discussion Rule.
- Be Patient & Understand Online Delays. (Avoid answering straight away – rather allow others to sum up).
- Avoid Repetition (Email And Other Piece of Informations which is already shared should be discussed in detail but only briefly if required).
- Specify Deadline and Priority Properly.
- Goal Clarity – Measurement of results and impact, not simply time spent.
- Take Proper Acknowledgment.
- Share final words in writing among the team via email.
4- RE-ALIGN ALL YOUR RESOURCES
Re-align all your resources whether it is money, man-power, digital asset, raw-materials, land you own and give a purpose to it.
When you take the first step towards a cause and be the source for inspiration for others, you often find the force behind any cause economically ‘self-sustaining’.
you don’t have to donate everything you own or possess. Rather than focusing on how to survive yourself or your business, you more focus on well being of others. And this naturally works well for yourself and makes you survive even the worst of all time.
See what is more feasible to allocate on well being of others during this coronavirus. Whether it’s your time, your efforts, your money or your resources.
Collectively, everything that you possess as a business entity, from natural resources, services you offer, products that you sell, machinery that is involved, land and space that you use, your network, or even office equipment are all your resources. Now re-consider what it can offer the community around you?
Think if you alone or along with your employees, vendors and supplier can generate resources online and help those in need?
Consider if you can offer your services like a business that can help the community around you. Or can you incentivize individual who does so?
Imagine if you utilize your digital assets such as Facebook, twitter or youtube to raise awareness related to anything that is affected by COVID-19.
Let’s see if you have help people psychologically, emotionally or financially with all that you have. This doesn’t have to be something that involves money but passion – a willingness to do something for those in need.
Think if you can play separately or collaborate with people you trust or involve your stakeholders and be the force of positivity within one community or across the globe.
5- CONNECT EVEN MORE
Your operations are shut down but not your business.
Make sure you are utilizing every possible way to stay connected with your customers. Whether its an email, SMS, Tweet or through a video message on your youtube or Facebook.
Don’t limit your creativity with DOs and DONT’s of Coronavirus. Your customer must have been receiving a dozen of such notification all day.
By now, everyone is aware of what they suppose to do during these unprecedented times.
Take it to an even more personal level. They must feel it about how worried you are about them if they are psychologically or economically stressed, how much you are a concern for them, that your best wishes are with them.
Think about all the possible ways that your customers love to do, if they love watching movies or love playing games if they will love to have some personal care products or something that can keep them and their family sanitized and hygienically protected.
See, if you can share some NETFLIX accounts or PS games, productive giveaway like crafting something, some exercising handy-giveaway to keep them active or maybe some personal care products with a positive message that it will all get over soon and you will shortly get back to normal days – #SeeYouSoon
6- THINK LONG-TERM
Your vigilance shouldn’t get over with this pandemic.
Business Owners, Executives & managers should see #WorkfromHome as a great opportunity to create and refine more comprehensive work Work-From-Home policies for their businesses. Make sure only to keep necessary people to work at the office while keeping the other operations remotely.
A two-year study from Stanford found companies saved almost $2,000 per employee on rent by reducing the amount of space needed.
Whether it’s two weeks or two months, businesses must adapt to the new realities that this Covid19 has presented to us and we must adapt to the best practices that are more economical and boost productivity.
We are not supposed to limit our managing skills to survive this crisis only but to find ways to grow.
7- BE SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE
This COVID-19 crisis can teach us multiple lessons. If one thing positive that we can take out from it is the fact that no matter what religion, social class, geography, language, cast or belief-system we belong to – we all are one.
That such diseases do not differentiate among us. And that now we all look up to one thing is – to get over from this.
Let this spirit unite us and include this in our company values. Let’s be more responsible and instill this value of equality, unity, and togetherness among all of our stakeholders deeply.
In case, if there is no CSR – Corporate Social Responsibility aligned with your company yet or even if you have one – let’s redesign or refine it focusing on this global challenge and effectively draw a strategy that gets viral among all of your stakeholders be it employees, customers, suppliers or vendors.
Make sure this time your CSR Campaign be your identity. It’s so deeply reflected in your values and communicated effectively across your organization that more and more of your stakeholders voluntarily to take it up with you and brings an impact that re-brand your business to next level and create much deeper bonding with all of the people that matter you the most.
But this time these CSR campaigns have to be more creative as we are going through a lockdown and in quarantine and nobody can go out to be a part of it.
So digital platforms and online applications have to play a great role in this. You have to come up with ideas that have a deeper impact on people so much that everybody willing to be a part of it.
You may ask your customers to help you identify ways that may help others, or you may ask your customers to notify people who are in need the most. or you may find such people and do it yourself. Think about what works best for you without hurting your brand image.
Such activities must not look or sound like selling your brand. Remember, the quieter it is, the louder the impact will be on all your stakeholders.
You have to make it more meaningful and human than value-oriented.
8- FOLLOW THE TREND
If one thing that you should do during this quarantine is to keep a closer look at your local and global competitors and be aware of what strategy they take up to counter this pandemic.
Again, you are not the only one going through it – it is every business across the globe. Even the enterprise with huge financial resources is redesigning its marketing strategies and policies to minimize the after effect.
List down all your competitors locally, regionally and globally. And refine a focused list of who would like to follow.
Besides being creative of ways to encounter this your way, also more vigilant about your competitors and their strategy to encounter. See what they are doing, how well they are connected with their customers, how they are spreading the word across their fanbase, how exactly they are operating in case if they are and so on.
This way you might get a lot of great ideas from your competitors in other regions how to keep yourself in the game by replicating or refining such ideas into more meaningful and effective campaigns.
9-BEST TIME TO INVEST
This sounds crazy but it is the truth.
The more you invest today the better it is – whether it is investing in your stakeholder’s well-being to create a deeper bond, or acquiring other small businesses that may find it hard to sustain or tools and equipment you need – the better it is.
Money that you spend on your business and people during normal days is considered as your very routine investment in business with more self-oriented gains.
But whatever you spend today during such times will have more gains. Firstly, it will be remembered for quite some time. Even small money that you invest today – on your employees, customers, vendors, and people that are important for your business – will be considered a fortune. Secondly, you might be able to crack some great deals during corovirus.
It is your business and you will be the only one who will be benefited from whatever you spend on your business today. It is just a matter of organizing your finances and allocating the right amount of money for the right things.
The market is down and so the prices and expectations. Consider long term needs of your business and see if acquiring such things will have a positive impact on your employees or customers. See, if it instills self-confidence among them.
Or you may find it more appropriate to modify your business slightly for long-term returns tomorrow. As you will continue to do your business, you will be needing a few things anyway, and acquiring such elements today will not only enable you to much cheaper but also boost your brand as an employer.
Do not limit your mind with the way you operate today. Relax, sit back, take a deep breath and collect all your positive energies to reconsider everything again.
See if your business needs you to redefine how you operate, see if acquiring another business will help you open up a new revenue stream. Think if you need a revamp is needed to do so or consider a new market or product.
Let’s be more open a bit and think if staying in the same market with the same product and services with a little change in strategy will work out for you.
Unfortunately, this COVID-19 will end with many businesses. This may not be a good sign for such businesses but see if stretching yourself a bit will pay off.
So do not be focused on only what you do and how you have been doing business till today, but be open to adapt anything good for your business whether it requires you to re-shape, re-define, re-arrange and re-order what you do and how you do your business.
Because when this COVID-19 will get over, you will find things and approaches of people changed and so the way we used to do business.
10- BE PREPARED FOR ANYTHING
Don’t Panic and do not underestimate either.
‘Cash is king again’. Although this global crisis has affected many mergers and acquisitions across the world. But this pandemic will get over soon and soon new opportunities will arise again.
If you keep yourself well-prepared in advance, you will be in a great position to make the most of such opportunities and take a leap.
Prepare yourself mentally and financially and so your employees. So that they don’t waste this time and keep everything aligned accordingly. Whether it is your time, efforts or money, it’s all worth a little more care.
Do not get exhausted, in fact, prepare for yourself for anything.
Maybe a merger, a collaboration, an acquisition, a transition to a more digital-focused business model – whatever it takes you to stay ahead of your game.
Even if this Coronavirus is over, 3 months from now will be really important to shape up the world economically and the way businesses are used to operate before this.
COVID-19 will create many challenges and opportunities. With the right set of skills, positive attitudes combined with a great team and needed resources – anything will be possible.