The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many small businesses to rethink their operations. What was once a solid business model may now be a thing of the past. For others, the basic model may be able to continue, but with some changes to fit into the new normal. Whichever scenario you are facing, these tips may help you remake your business.
Remember, the new normal extends to everyone, and that includes your customers. People have been mostly staying in their homes for the past several months, and many will be a bit uneasy about patronizing businesses the way they used to, especially if they're not assured that the business is taking the situation seriously. The bottom line is that customers need to feel safe when they do business with you. This may mean finding ways to make social distancing an everyday part of your business and providing the means to accommodate that. What this looks like will depend on your operations and the space in which you operate in. Do you need new signage for social distancing? Do shelves need to be rearranged? Do you need to reduce inventory to create more space? Are you requiring employees and customers alike to wear masks?
People want this assuredness before they set foot into your place of business. They don't want to "roll the dice" and hope that you are taking safety precautions once they arrive. Put their minds at ease by playing up the efforts you are making in your marketing materials. Make a big deal on your social media channels, website, and in advertisements about what you're doing to keep customers safe. This may encourage them to do business with you, especially if they don't see similar efforts being made by your competitors.
Having enough operating cash on hand is more important now than ever, since your income stream may be compromised at the same time you’re spending more on re-tooling your business model. If you don’t already have a business line of credit to smooth out the bumps in the road, contact your banker about applying for one. [cite::145::cite]
If the new normal looks like it is going to have a lasting negative impact on your revenue, it's time to find new revenue streams as quickly as you can. Identify products and services that you are equipped and qualified to provide with the resources that you have. What supplies are available to you through existing suppliers? Do you need to find new ones? What changes can you make to your existing offerings that will generate additional revenue? Are there markets that you have ignored in the past that could be catered to now?
Can you find ways to incorporate more online sales, deliveries, or overall flexibility into your business? Anything that you can do to generate more interest from consumers should be considered. Pay attention to changes other businesses like yours have made to get ideas on what you can do differently or in addition to what you are known for.
Chances are you have spent a significant amount of time over the past few months trying to come up with ways to save money. A business savings account is a great place to start, but you need to rethink your business budget to ensure survival during this time of crisis.
Find ways to cut production costs and negotiate with suppliers. Let them know you're shopping around, and they may be willing to come down on price. Do more comparison shopping in general, whether it's for insurance or office supplies. Take a close look at your marketing spend and identify the channels that are working well while cutting back on others.
A big part of the new norm is uncertainty. If you ever could take your business for granted, you certainly can't now. You now have an idea of what it's like when the entire economy comes to a screeching halt. The good news is that you don't have to be blindsided by it if it happens again.
The reality is that nobody knows what the future holds in terms of the coronavirus pandemic. Businesses that have reopened may once again be forced to shut down, but next time you can have a plan for how you're going to handle it. Keep an emergency fund, and regularly add to it as much as possible. Figure out how to remain operational and how to quickly switch over to a work-from-home setup if necessary (and possible). Communicate with employees. Ask questions and get feedback. Do everything in your power to prepare for a smooth transition should the need arise.
Running a business has never been easy, but the pandemic has really forced small business owners to think on their feet in order to survive. While there are challenges ahead, take comfort knowing that if you can survive through the worst of times, you can come out stronger on the other side, and businesses everywhere are facing similar challenges. Learn from them and remake your business for the long haul.
For resources and information on how California Bank & Trust can help you, contact us today. [cite::171::cite] [cite::172::cite]