As we face such unique and uncertain times, being a small business owner is not the ideal career. We, here at ASEB consulting, wish we had all of the answers or a magic plan that could guide you through this pandemic. The truth is, we do not. What we do have is years of experience, and we know that small business owners rarely give up. The five things we list here are just our thoughts and ideas that could help you get through this. Every company, every scenario is different, take what you can and see if you can make it work for you. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us here or at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we would be happy to answer at no cost, of course.
Deal with your Employees.
The headline sounds like a no-brainer. Well, in crisis, we often overlook the most obvious things. Our employees are critical to the long term success of our businesses. Note if you have no employees, this may not be applicable, but you are an employee. If you show doubt and uncertainty, your employees will also. That is just our human nature. Maybe you have furloughed some staff, are you in communication with them? One suggestion is a weekly newsletter to all employees, those still working, and those furloughed. The newsletter serves two purposes. The first being that you are sharing any updates you may have related to the business itself, the situation, and any announcements. Second, it can help maintain a level of confidence within your employees. Hopefully, they will feel that they are still a part of the business and that they are valued.
Focus on the things you can control.
We have all probably heard this a million times. There is a reason we have all heard it that many times, it works. It is easy to get sidetracked by things outside of our control. All that does is waste resources that can solve issues we can fix. As a business, we have little to no influence over what our government will do. A company or small business does influence the use of time and resources within the business. Focus on the actions you as an owner can take during the crisis. By doing this, you can accomplish more on a day-to-day basis. Take the time to lay out a plan of what you will do as things begin to normalize, have contingencies in place. Having such a plan may allow you to accelerate your post-pandemic growth.
Don’t forget your customers.
Growing your business and or adding new customers may not be possible during this crisis. But maintaining a strong relationship with past customers certainly is. Communicating with former customers can be done via newsletter, personal email, and outreach, or even calling them. Use this “down” time as a time to speak with your customers, not to your customers. Send them a survey, ask them how you can improve your business. Their feedback may provide you with some insight that you were unaware of before the pandemic. One thing we have heard several times during the crisis is that “If you do not improve upon something during this crisis, you missed the chance to reflect and improve.”
Reevaluate your business model.
If we have learned anything during this, it has been that a business needs to be able to make changes and make them fast. For example, if you are a small business that sells local goods, and you do not have a way for customers to buy online, you may need to consider creating an online sales option. If you are a restaurant, do you have the ability to provide delivery service? What about your menu, does it need to be changed for delivery? Have you considered offering “family” style options? These are questions that restaurants can consider. As of now, we do not know what the new “normal” will be, what can it hurt to have a model that can adapt to a changing world? There are many more small businesses out there in many other areas of goods and services that also need to evaluate their current model, and how or if they can find a way to adapt.
Again, this may seem obvious, but now more than ever, you need to be assertive and fight for your business. Do not just sit and wait for the government to fix the problem; if you are looking for a business loan, push the bank to help. Go out and find opportunities to help yourself and your business. That is not selfish; small business is what makes the world go around; your success is vital to our success as a community.