Hundreds of thousands of small businesses have been disrupted by the coronavirus. Many are shut down entirely, some are partially open and some are dealing with high worker absenteeism as the virus sweeps through a larger number of communities, sickens employees and forces others to self-quarantine.
If you are a small business owner, here are five strategies you can employ now to help you and your employees get through this crisis.
Tap Into Government Relief
On Friday, congress passed the $2.2 trillion stimulus package. Within it are several resources for small business owners. These include the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program and SBA Express Bridge Loans. If your business has been forced to close, I’d recommend applying right away for these, even if you don’t end up using them. Click here to apply for an EID Loan and click here to find Express Bridge Loan Lenders.
Find Even Faster Cash
We have never experienced the economy coming to a screeching halt like this before. As a result, while extremely well-intentioned, we simply don’t know how long it will take for government-sponsored relief to actually end up in your bank account.
Other potential sources of fast cash include Invoice Factoring, Online Loans or Crowdfunding. Startup Nation has an excellent article here on these strategies for small business owners.
Pivot to a Temporary New Way of Doing Business
We have seen the obvious ways that businesses are adjusting including online appointments with medical providers, modified checkout procedures at grocery stores, or curbside pickup at restaurants.
We are also seeing manufacturers pivot to make critical medical supplies, keep their employees working and keep their businesses open. Larger examples include distilleries that are now manufacturing hand sanitizer to donate.
And smaller manufacturers are helping out in low tech and high tech ways. Click here to sponsor Better Life Bags employees who are hand sewing medical masks and click here to learn about a local, Lehigh Valley company who will be 3D printing masks for medical providers.
Connect with Your Customers
If you are in a high-touch business and your customers are used to seeing you in person, use the tools you still have available. The Chamber of Commerce has published this excellent resource to guide small business owners on how to proactively stay in touch with your customers, promote your gift cards, stream or video chat your services and hold online events.
For my local customers who I typically see in person, I have shifted to Zoom video conferencing for appointments and am also using BombBomb to send personalized emails with video embedded in them to provide a higher level of personal interaction while we can’t meet face-to-face.
As an alternative to BombBomb, this week I will be piloting Loom to be able to record myself directly while addressing a client concern or record my screen with a small video of me in the corner as I walk a client through a detailed response to a question.
If your business is well capitalized, you may be able to handle a month or two of reduced sales. However, you may still find this time difficult, either in the form of stress from a significant disruption to your normal routine or being cooped up indoors all day. If this is true, make sure you prioritize self-care more than ever at this time.
Click here for my go to self-care faves including getting outside, meditating and spending time on a creative pursuit among other things. Making sure you remain physically and mentally fit will allow you to hit the ground running once the dust settles and we return to normalcy!