6 Tips for SME Business Owners During Crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed businesses by leaps and bounds. For those in a retail business, like groceries and malls, the change means allowing only a limited number of customers at a time in your store so that customers won’t be in close contact with one another. 

Service-related businesses like salons and hotels are in a similar situation. As you may expect, these businesses are finding it difficult to make much money as they used to prior to the pandemic.

Amidst the situation, business owners realize the need to come up with strategies to ensure business continuity. Since the health crisis is likely to continue for an indefinite period of time, adapting to the new way of operating as soon as possible is a must to protect your business finances

This requires studying several things, including how the pandemic has changed your customers’ needs or goals, what new opportunities you can explore in your industry, and so on. The goal is to make your business more responsive and resilient during the time of COVID-19.

Whether you’re a small or medium enterprise, these business strategies can help you prevent further financial losses while ensuring that you and your team can come out of this crisis stronger and better than ever before.

1. Choose remote work setup

Remote work arrangements have been around for quite some time, but they peaked this 2020 due to many areas being placed in lockdown. If your business can afford to have a remote work option for your employees, opt to do so. However, this requires you and your staff to be familiar with tools that will let you communicate and collaborate with one another even if you’re not working in the same place.

Set clear guidelines to make the transition to remote work as smooth as possible. Cover important aspects like staff scheduling, communication channels, point person, and required deliverables, to name a few.

Everyone in your team will probably need to adjust to this new work setup, so you need to be prepared if you encounter problems here and there in the first few weeks upon shifting to telecommuting. Try and anticipate potential issues from the get-go so that you won’t be caught off guard if they do happen.

2. Obsess about health and safety protocols

Suppose your business can’t offer a work-from-home option because you’re in manufacturing or other similar sectors; it’s then your responsibility to make health and safety a priority for your employees and customers. Before opening your doors again, consider the following suggestions:

  • Have your office cleaned thoroughly. Install disinfecting booths at the building or room entrance and designate cleaners who will sanitize high-touch areas every hour or so.
  • Provide hygiene products like hand sanitizers or alcohol in strategic places of the office or building. Bathrooms should have a steady supply of soap and water for handwashing.
  • Enforce the rule of using thermal scans, wearing masks, and maintaining social distancing. Encourage no-contact interactions, too, but if it can’t be helped, consider asking your employees to wear hand gloves. This can be a good way to make your customers feel more comfortable exchanging cash or receiving items from your employees.

3. Leverage online technologies and strategies

With people being advised to stay home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, online activities increased. People are browsing websites, engaging on social media, and downloading apps. This can be an opportunity for you to shift your sales strategy and other business processes online.

For example, if you haven’t established an online ordering system, now is the perfect time to get this project started. Along with it, you can also implement cashless payments, which is what many companies have chosen to do to protect everyone in the community, including their customers, employees, and third-party service providers. 

You can also work with an agency to help you plan and execute your digital marketing campaigns to improve your online presence ultimately. Below are some strategies that are worth exploring with your digital marketing partner:

  • Content marketing—This refers to the process of creating informative content and sharing it on your pages, as well as in your social media accounts. You can choose from various content formats like infographics, videos, podcasts, webinars, and so on. By doing content marketing with consistency, you can generate leads and promote your products and services.
  • Email marketing—Using your email contact list, you can send marketing messages to let people know what you do as a company and how your product or service can help them. You can include a link to your website or social media profile, so people will know where to go if they need more information about your business.
  • Social media marketing—Since there are now billions of social media users around the world, you can take advantage of this marketing channel to widen your audience reach. Social media users love consuming engaging content, and getting likes and shares on your social posts can go a long way to get more people to learn about your brand.

4. Manage your cash flow

Managing your cash flow means trying to keep your expenses low, so you can have access to cash to keep your employees on payroll and ensure that your business can grow once things go back to normal.

Since your financial resources are limited, you should put any unnecessary expenses on hold. Make budget projections, which may need you to determine how much time you need or how much sales you have to make before your business’s financial status reaches a stable level. Once you have these insights, you can then plan on how or where to spend your money. 

Keep in mind that you may need to allocate funds to buy hygiene supplies and personal protective equipment to be used by your employees in serving customers, so make sure these expenses are accounted for. You may not be allowed to resume business operations without first complying with health and safety protocols in the workplace.

5. Check for insurance coverage

If you have business insurance, you may reach out to your insurance broker to discuss what type of coverage or assistance your business is entitled to as a result of the pandemic. Since insurance policies have different coverage for unexpected events, it pays to know how you can negotiate for better terms the next time around.

6. Have a long-term plan

The pandemic has shown us just how accurate the adage is: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” This is especially true for businesses, as COVID-19 caused massive interruptions across industries. Moving forward, you need to take steps now to make your company more prepared in case similar events happen in the future. 

A contingency plan that focuses on critical aspects like financial management, risk assessment, crisis planning, employee safety, and disaster recovery should be documented and shared with key stakeholders so that everyone will know how to respond to a crisis in a timely and efficient manner.

Final Words

The COVID-19 will test your business’s creativity and resiliency during the most critical times. Take control of the situation by tackling the immediate issues, but do not forget to prepare for what the future lies in a post-crisis world.