The COVID-19 pandemic has left no business unaffected in many different ways. Most are taking a financial hit across industries. Some may not last through it all.
In order to keep your organization afloat, you’ll need to employ a variety of strategies, technological and otherwise. Here are some ways to plan ahead and help your business survive.
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Plan for Different Time Periods and Scenarios
Nobody knows how long the crisis will last or what the long-term effects will be. In order to persevere, you’ll need to plan for different scenarios and outcomes. Think in terms of various time periods. Six-month solutions will be different from those you’ll have to put into place a year from now. For example, if you’ve furloughed staff for a few months, you know you can’t expect them to work without pay for an entire year, so you’ll need to consider other strategies.
Plan for worst-case scenarios so you can mitigate disaster should it strike.
Pay Attention to Market Demands
Some industries will fare better than others during the pandemic. However, even if your sector is suffering as a whole, search for niches within it that meet the market demands. For example, providing digital and online solutions to services typically delivered in person — like healthcare and education — will increase the value of the products you offer, especially at a time when everyone is looking for ways to rectify problems at a low cost.
Remember COVID-19 and its effects are unpredictable, so you will constantly need to reevaluate how you’re delivering your services and best rise to the challenges of an unprecedented period.
Turn to Fintech
Fintech offers a wealth of efficient, digital solutions at a low cost. You can apply for a business loan via an app on your mobile device, crowdfund on digital platforms, and much more — all thanks to the merger between finance and technology.
You can also leverage tools for facilitating digital payments like Apple Pay. This is a cost-effective, user-friendly means of collecting money for purchases that is more convenient for your customers, boosting your sales. Plus, at a time when everyone is concerned about the health risks of exchanging physical money, it offers a means of contactless payment.
Look into Loans
The United States government is offering numerous resources, including loans, to provide economic relief to small businesses and help them recover from the financial effects of the pandemic. You’re probably already aware of measures like the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act - but things don’t end there.
Businesses can apply for a variety of loans, such as Economic Injury Disaster Loans, via the U.S. Small Business Administration website. There, you’ll also find additional resources of interest. Make sure to look into state and local options for loans, too.
Account for Regulations Regarding Employees
The possibility of having to pay employees who take lengthy sick leave at a time like this may feel daunting — it’s only another added stressor during an already challenging time. However, it’s essential to know and understand all the rules in place for protecting your employees, because if you neglect them, you could face steep fines or worse.
In addition to protecting your employees, the U.S. Department of Labor has put measures into place to assist employers with these financial burdens. In April, they announced the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, both part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).
Through FFCRA, the government will provide tax credit reimbursements to small, private businesses who have taken paid sick leave because of COVID-19. Keep in mind that there are also rules for many employers in regard to coronavirus-related sick leave.
Be Forthcoming with Stakeholders, Employees, and Vendors
Being honest with everyone with a vested interest in your company will help you maintain your reputation throughout this crisis. You may need to freeze contracts with vendors, for example, in order to survive the COVID-19 pandemic. Because so many people could be impacted by your success as a business, it’s important to keep everyone in the loop to the extent that it’s possible to do so. You may want to turn to them and resume your relationship later on, after all.
Also, consider strategies to preserve employees and prevent layoffs, such as reducing the salaries of higher-paid managers. If you’re forced to make the difficult decision to let employees go, be as generous as possible in terms of severance packages and other measures.
Consider a Second Wave
Unfortunately, it appears that this crisis is far from over. Many states within the U.S. have experienced surges and are returning to lockdown. There is also the very real possibility that we’ll experience a second wave of the pandemic.
Some businesses that are able to weather the first wave won’t survive a second. But starting to prepare now will increase the likelihood of your success. Use this time as a learning period to help inform your strategy for another phase of the pandemic. Assess what’s been working and what hasn’t, and consider new ways to tackle another stressful circumstance, financially and otherwise.
As we all cope with unprecedented challenges, it’s essential for businesses to keep searching for solutions to persevere. In addition to taking advantage of the programs put in place to assist them, they must be proactive in staying informed and planning ahead.