It's no secret that the majority of the world is currently facing a crisis. While most corporations and chains will be fine and have plans in place to help them through trying times, what about small businesses? What can they do to get through this crisis? There's no easy answer, but there are a few things that small business owners can do to help ease the strain of this crisis.
While you can't always proactively plan for a crisis, especially like the one we're currently experiencing, you can reactively plan once more information becomes available. Look at what measures you can take to prevent the spread and listen to the recommendations set by the officials. Can your employees work from home? Are there more specific safety and health measures you can take?
Consider different ways you can help your community stay safe while keeping your customer base happy. Try encouraging your customers to purchase gift cards. For example, a photographer might provide discounts for each client that buys a gift card for future use. This lets you potentially keep revenue that could have been lost and keeps your community safe by limiting the number of people visiting your business.
It's crucial to stay informed during this time. Keep track of the news and any updates that come out from reliable sources, like the CDC, where you can find tips and guidance for dealing with this unprecedented situation.
Stay informed of any plans the government rolls out to help small businesses during this time of hardship. Already, the U.S. Small Business Administration is “offering designated states and territories low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).” This is just one of the first steps being taken to help small businesses bounce back from this crisis.
External and internal communication is critical during times of crisis. Start with internal communication. Talk with your employees and let them know of any changes that will be happening due to the crisis. Ask for their perspective and see if they have any suggestions on what to do in the near future.
After speaking with your employees, focus on the message you want to convey to your customers. You want to respond as quickly as you can, but make sure you have a plan in place first. Inform your customers of changes that will affect them and any preventative measures your business is taking to prevent the spread. Be as transparent as possible. If your audience feels like you're hiding something or lying, your business will lose credibility and trust.
Keep your consumers informed throughout the entire process, including new changes or updates as they are made and implemented. If you have to temporarily close your business for the safety of your community, tell your customers. Tell them why you're closing, a potential end date based on how the situation is at that point, and how they can reach you for support if they need it.
One of the most important things to do during this time is to stay positive. You need a clear head when making important decisions, and it will help create a better atmosphere in your workplace. Your employees look to you for guidance, and as a leader, it's always best to keep a calm head and a positive attitude.
Dealing with a crisis is tough, and COVID-19 is creating a lot of problems for everyone. It's not going to be easy, but we'll get through this. We're all in this together! Try the steps above and remember to communicate, stay positive, and wash your hands!