Covid-19 has had a devastating effect on almost every segment of our society. The challenges of the pandemic have been felt around the world, from massive death tolls to people losing jobs and businesses closing their doors. Everyone has felt the effects in some way, and the crisis has probably led to permanent changes to how we live and work.
If you own a business, then your challenges were compounded. At the outset of the pandemic, people stayed home by the millions, leading to big box and corporate stores raking in profits while smaller businesses felt the pinch. Those that didn’t adapt, unfortunately, didn’t survive. However, those that made changes, were able to weather the storm and come out on the other side.
That said, we aren’t exactly on the other side yet. While the coronavirus has seemingly become milder over time, people are still getting sick, and people are still dying. As a business owner, you need to continue evolving so that you can continue to stay in business. Here are some of the best steps businesses are taking to survive Covid-19 and beyond.
Keep Your Staff Healthy
The effort to slow the spread of the virus so that our hospitals can handle the load starts with us as individuals. For a business owner, that means making sure that employees are safe and aren’t contributing to unsafe practices while at work. If you need to, implement a physical distancing policy and a mask policy at work.
You may not feel comfortable asking staff to get vaccinated and boosted if it is not legally required where you work, but you can encourage it. You may set a requirement that customers and visitors to your place of work are vaccinated and boosted and have to wear masks as well. Keeping the staff healthy will not just stop the spread, but it will prevent outbreaks at your work that can be damaging for productivity.
If your business can handle it, then there is no reason why your staff can’t work from home. It’s been a long two years as of this writing, and if you’ve already had staff working from home, then they can continue to do so. It’s tempting to want everyone to return to the office, but working remotely provides silos that keep everyone safe and prevents outbreaks within your workplace. You may be able to purchase a tailored commercial property insurance policy that will cover equipment and inventory that is being used at an employee’s home so that you are properly covered.
Remote working is one of those changes that may be with us for good as a result of the pandemic. Many employees around the country and the world have adapted to it, and have appreciated not having to commute and being able to eat lunch in their home kitchens, among other things. If it is operationally possible and your employees support it, then continue with this type of working arrangement.
Build in Backups
You never know when someone on your staff might fall sick or even have to quarantine. If your employees have to do their job from the workplace, how will you fill their position? You need to make sure that you can back up everyone on your staff so that there is as little disruption to everyday business as possible. It will put some pressure on everyone else during the time that their colleague is sick or stuck at home, but in the end, your business can continue functioning, and they will most likely have to take their turns at some point.
Make sure that you set up email contact lists, text message groups, and other methods to get messages out fast. You may need to tell staff not to come into work or to isolate if they were in close contact with someone who has fallen ill. If you need to quickly communicate with customers, social media is perfect for this. Depending on the situation you can set up paid ads to get the word out.
You can also get permission to put customers on your text messaging lists so that you can be sure they will get your message quickly. When there is uncertainty, they will want specific details about what is going on and how it might affect them. For instance, if their shipment is being delayed, you should contact them as soon as possible to let them know. They will understand and appreciate that you reached out to them. The same goes if you have to cancel and reschedule an appointment. Everyone has been affected by Covid-19, so it’s just a matter of respecting them and letting them know what’s happening.
Negotiate Payment Schedules
There may be times when you are getting close to being behind on your payables. You certainly don’t want your credit to be affected, nor do you want to harm your relationship with suppliers. Talk honestly about your situation and see if there is something you can work out regarding your payment timeline. Cash flow will always be the priority, so if you can free up some cash by negotiating with your suppliers, you will be better off until you get back into a more stable situation.
Plan For Recovery
It may be hard to see it, but the truth is that we will get through the pandemic at some point. We are already seeing signs of it, but the going seems slow. You need to be prepared for when things are close to being back to normal. Depending on your business type, this will be a time to ramp up your operations. That could mean having extra materials on hand for production and more staff on hand to cover shifts with a more normal flow of customers. You do not want to be left in the dust, so make sure that you are putting aside some funds to ramp up when you need to.
Covid-19 has changed just about everything about our daily lives. If your business has lasted this long, you should be commended. The fact is, we aren’t quite completely on the other side of the pandemic. By taking these steps you can keep your business protected until we hit the recovery to come.