Owning and running a business can be a fulfilling yet challenging job. There are 30.2 million small business owners in the United States who make up part of the national economy. Now, these businesses are facing new challenges and struggles. To help you navigate this difficult time as a business owner, here are some tips for operating during the coronavirus pandemic.
Protect Yourself and Others
The most important thing you can do right now is to protect the wellbeing of yourself, your employees, and customers. To do that, it's crucial for you to follow local and state government orders about operating your business. These new business rules and regulations have been made to keep everyone, including you and your employees, healthy and safe. You could also face hundreds or thousands of dollars in fines, and even jail time for disobeying. To ensure that everyone is protected, you might need to change how you operate your business or deliver your products, but such adjustments could save lives.
Plan and Prepare
When the economy is in a precarious state, it's essential to keep consistent with your normal business activities. If you are currently running a marketing campaign, you might be tempted to ease back on your advertising budget, but this is actually the time to invest in your company. Your competition will be slowing down and might even put a hold on their own advertising. Use this to your advantage and create a strong message that will resonate with your customers. With less noise to compete with, your advertising could have a more substantial impact on the market and a higher return on investment.
Take Advantage of Technology
Since you probably have restrictions on your local businesses, you might find it hard to do errands like running to the bank. To avoid this problem, you should consider finding a new banking service that allows you to access checking and savings accounts online or from a smart device. Simply deposit checks with a picture or transfer money with a click of a button. You no longer need to visit a physical location to have access to your money.
With today's innovations in technology, there are also many opportunities for you to improve your current work situation. If you are working from home and have regular meetings with clients scheduled, you can suggest using video conferencing. Such services, like Zoom or GoToMeeting, are great alternatives to your standard telephone call. Video conferencing allows you to hear and see your customers or colleagues in real-time. If you are hard up for human interactions, a video can also add some much-needed socializing to your day.
Just because you may be separated from your employees doesn’t mean you can’t collaborate in a team setting. If you have to manage group work amongst your employees, you can implement a project management tool to better track every member's contribution. Asana, Hive, or Trello are all great options for team tasks. Even if you don't want to purchase some project management software, you can use Google Drive to work on documents, spreadsheets, or presentations together. Being a productive team is still possible when working from home. You just might need to change the way your team works together.
Pay Your Taxes
While this might seem like an obvious recommendation, some business owners might forget that it is still tax season. It's easy to get caught up in the current events and overlook preparing and filing your tax return. The IRS has changed the deadline for taxes by an additional 3 months, but you should still plan on submitting your return before they are due. You can then use the extra time to pay any taxes you might owe. If you are lucky enough not to owe any money to the IRS and have a refund coming to you, the sooner you file your return, the sooner you can get your refund check. That money can be used towards business expenses and help you during these difficult times. It's an excellent opportunity to have extra cash set aside.
Monitor Your Supply Chain
Depending on the type of business you have, you could rely heavily on a supply chain for inventory levels or logistics for the delivery of your products. If this is the case, you should take the time to research alternative suppliers and logistical partners to use in case of an emergency. Knowing whom you can use ahead of time will help you set up a new supply chain quicker and keep your business running smoothly. Trying to find new methods of shipping or delivery could be difficult if your competitors are faced with the same issue. Save yourself the stress and create a backup plan for your business.
Focus on Customer Service
The COVID-19 crisis isn't only difficult for businesses and their owners. Your customers are also struggling with the situation. This is the time to remember that customer satisfaction plays a vital role in the success of your company. The best way to help your business and customers is to offer the best experience you can. If possible, try to be responsive to any customer concerns or requests. Maybe offer incentives for customers who shop online or place orders for pickup. Keep your clientele informed by using an email platform to send updates on hours of operation or changes in provided services. Being flexible to your customer's needs is important and can create a loyal following for your business. Your customers will take notice and remember the kindness you showed them during this time.
No matter how you run your business, the recent changes in our country and economy could affect you. To help your business during a global crisis, you should carefully monitor your local situation. Use all of your available resources and focus on using this new challenge to improve and strengthen your business for the better.
This article originally appeared in the HawkeMedia blog and has been published here with permission.