How Your Business or Organization Can Survive COVID-19
By now, you’ve probably heard how any business or organization that you’ve ever given your email address to is handling COVID-19 and their coronavirus response. And, to be completely honest, everyone is handling it or planning to handle it the same way, depending on their business. Bottom line: Stay home and stay away from others. We are past prevention and containment. All we can do now is allow things to shut down so that people can avoid getting sick.
As things shut down though, what happens if your business has to shut down? How will you pay your employees? How will you get paid? How long will you have to be shut down for? How will your business survive COVID-19? These questions are on the mind of EVERY small business owner, and rightly so. And the answer to these questions is even scarier: we don’t know.
The point of this post isn’t to create more fear or hysteria (more than there already is) but to give you resources, hope and a little inspiration to keep on keepin’ on during these challenging times. We will make it through this but we’ll need to do it together, separately.
The US Chamber of Commerce has a great guide and toolkit for small business to survive COVID-19. The toolkit can be found here and the guide can be found here. Additionally, there’s a COVID-19 flyer builder here if you need to post something at your business or organization.
Anyway, here are some quick things (and some long term things) you can do to help your business survive COVID-19:
EMPLOYEES & MEMBERS FIRST
First thing: think about your employees, if you have them, and/or members, and how best to keep them and their families safe. If that means remote working, temporary furlough, reduced staffing – whatever works for your particular business or organization – do it and do it now. Restaurants and bars in NH have already closed their doors to dining in. Their only options are take-out or delivery. Some restaurants, to keep their employees working, have started using their servers for delivery drivers. These are the things that need to be done to prevent the spread of the virus while keeping businesses afloat and people employed.
If your staff can work remotely, and in order to keep in touch, manage workflow, etc. I suggest using Slack. Slack is a chat app that is so much more – you can share files, create to-do lists, has giphy built in (a must have) and many more integrations. If you need a more face to face or screensharing feature, try Zoom or Google Hangouts. Google Hangouts is a free option while Zoom is a paid service that starts at $14.99/month for small teams of 100 or less.
If creative staffing and remote working isn’t a possibility (IE you’re a service based business like a gym or martial arts studio), then perhaps there are other things you can do – like translating classes to an online or digital format, either through YouTube or social media. If live classes are more your thing, using Zoom as described above might work. If you’re teaching a course, there are tools like Teachable (a paid service) that provide more robust tools for teaching than Zoom (but Zoom can also work).
A couple of my clients have had to postpone their live events and switch to digital media to help make-up for the missing or postponed event. For instance, one of my non-profit clients was having a comedy fundraising event this last weekend – the event got postponed to a later date but because they had auction items for their in-person event, they wanted a way to still be able to sell them. We created an online store and added their products to their homepage so that they can direct traffic their to help their fundraising efforts until the live event comes around again.
Another non-profit client was having a large conference on a local college campus in a few weeks. Smartly, they postponed the event to a later date, but before they postponed, they changed it from an in-person event to a teleconference. They decided, even with the postponed date, to use technology to their advantage and continue having it be a teleconference in the fall.
There are a number of ways to keep your employees working and members engaged using technology during the COVID-19 pandemic. Consider your business and what makes the most sense and then run with it to keep your employees, members and their families safe.
FINANCES & TAXES
If you haven’t heard by now, the Federal Government has changed the Tax Deadline to July 15, 2020 because of COVID-19. The important part of this is that you still need to file a tax return or an extension by April 15, 2020. Important note: Payroll taxes are not included in with the Federal Income Tax Deadline extension – these must be paid on their regular schedule.
There are a slew of resources out there for small businesses for financial relief due to COVID-19:
The Small Business Administration announced that it would offer disaster assistance in loans up to $2 million for small businesses affected by the coronavirus. These low-interest loans (the terms can be up to 30 years to repay and a low 3.75 percent rate) are available to businesses that have sustained “substantial economic injury” due to the spread of the coronavirus. The business owner will need to provide financials to qualify and a personal guarantee from the individuals owning 20% or more of the company. Click here for more >
Statewide Small Business Initiatives
Depending on what business your state is in, your state may be able to provide some financial assistance for your business if it’s affected by COVID-19. So far, NY City, San Francisco and Washington State all have taken action to help lessen the burden on small businesses to help them survive COVID-19. The best thing to do is to reach out to your state’s Governor’s office and find out what resources are available for your business. A link to a list of all state governors and their websites is here.
Financial Institution Assistance
Currently, Capital One, Citi and Wells Fargo have all issued statements that they are willing to work with businesses that are experiencing financial difficulties as part of the coronavirus pandemic. It might be worth reaching out to your financial istitution to find out what their policy is toward financial relief or assistance in your particular situation.
Facebook Grant Program
Facebook has launched a grant program for small businesses as well – read about it here.
There are a number of other finacial resource and assistance programs out there – do your research and make sure they are reputable. As many good programs are coming as a result of this pandemic, many scams are popping up as well.
MARKETING & ADVERTISING
YES! Don’t stop (if you can) marketing during the COVID-19 pandemic. That said, DO NOT take advantage of the situation – IE panic buying toilet paper, hand sanitizer and masks to resell at a higher price. That’s just being a shitty human being and isn’t marketing at all.
What you should do is continue to market to your target audience with empathy and understanding. Stay in touch with your customers so that they know that you’re still open and doing business. Offer discounts on items that may be of interest to them – let them know that you have online ordering, pick-up or delivery options. These are the times when your customer service should really shine and make you stand out.
While many other businesses have stopped their marketing initiatives altogether, no is the time to capitalize on that, if your business is able to. As Warren Buffet has said, “Be fearful when others are greedy, but greedy when others are fearful.” Take advantage of the descreased competition to gain market share. This post by Neil Patel does a great job explaining what has happened to SEO, paid search and analytics during the COVID-19 crisis.
I hope this post has given you some resources to keep your business afloat in the coming months while we hope the coronavirus winds down and goes away. Keep in mind the directives given by our healthcare officials and follow the directions given by our government. These are put in place, though temporarily inconveniencing us, to help flatten the curve and return our country back to normal operating status.
How are you survinging the COVID-19 pandemic? What steps have you taken to help flatten the curve and your business, employees and family safe?