Small businesses across the country are feeling the impact of the coronavirus.  In a poll conducted by small business referral network, Alignable, 80% of the 52,000 small businesses that responded are already negatively impacted.

 

And that number is on the rise.  Fortunately, there have been a number of resources that are becoming available by the day to help you get a handle on the situation.  If you’re starting to feel the impact as a small business owner, here are a few places to start.

 

Hunker down

First off, if there is any uncertainty around how you should be operating right now, make that decision.  Even if it is only for a specific period of time, determine whether you will stay open, reduce operations, work remotely, or close temporarily, and communicate it clearly to your employees and customers.  Refer to the CDC’s guidelines and the US Chamber of Commerce’s Coronavirus State and Local Government Policy Tracker to help you decide what is best for your community, your employees, and your business.  As we all know, the situation is changing daily, so use these resources to reassess your plan as needed to determine what’s best for your business and your community.

Once you’ve made that determination, you can start to plan the best way to manage your finances during a period of suspended or reduced income.  A great place to start is this guide to modeling and managing the financial impact of COVID-19 on your business from SmartBooks.  And take a look at the Small Business Administration’s resources on small business loan resources available to aid those impacted by COVID-19.

 

Get creative

Now that your finances are in order (or you at least have a plan in place to put your mind at ease), start to think about emerging needs for your customers and how you can help them now.  What does your customer need today that they didn’t need two weeks ago?  Are there new digital solutions you can offer your customers?  Check out the Alignable’s discussion forums to see what other small businesses are doing to offer creative solutions in this current climate.

 

Use downtime to hone skills and optimize your business

If your business is slowing down due to social distancing, make the most out of the time you have.  It’s not often that we are afforded the time to step back and strategize about ways we can improve our business outside of the day to day. 

  • Think about upgrading your infrastructure.  Update your website content and SEO, review your branding, perform maintenance on your technology or equipment (even if you don’t have the funds to upgrade now, create an inventory of needs for the future when you may be in a better position to invest). 
  • Hone your skills. Look for opportunities to bone up in areas you’ve always wanted to learn.  A great resource is The Lonely Entrepreneur’s Learning Community – it has training on topics curated for small businesses (hint: now might be the time to start the two-week free trial).
  • Business planning.  Develop new strategies to help you come out stronger: plans to market your business, develop new product lines, forge strategic partnerships, etc.

Take care of your people

Finally, remember to keep the interests of your employees and your customers top of mind.  Even though you may be worried about keeping your doors open, everyone is going through challenges of their own.  As a small business, you have the opportunity to be a leader for your community through this time of uncertainty.  Check in with your staff, make sure their families are healthy, be as flexible as possible so they can continue to stay safe.  And be there for your customers that rely on you.  If you can afford to provide a free product or service, no matter how small, it’s a gesture of goodwill that will go a long way.  And finally, support other small businesses where you can – we’re all in this together!