There is no doubt about it, a lot of scary things have happened over the last several months. The world is currently experiencing something we have only really ever read about in our 10th grade history books. The small businesses in our communities and communities across the world have been hit hard by COVID-19. As a small business owner, closing the doors with no sense of when you’ll be able to open them again is a scary place to be. While most businesses have been able to open back up to regular hours over the summer, most of them are still not able to operate at full capacity yet. So now, you have to run your restaurant, or store as if it was open for a full house, but only let ¼ of your customers in at a time.
So how do you keep your business afloat during a time like this? How do you retain your valuable employees in a time when they are scared, uncertain and dealing with a lot more stress than normal?
- Proper Safety Measures
The first and most important thing to remember is the health and safety of yourself, your employees and your customers. Ensure all health recommendations are being met in your business; mandatory masks, extra cleaning, social distancing and limiting the number of customers in your business at any given time. While some of these measures, like making people wait in a long line up, may seem like they will scare off your customers or clients, NOT having these safety measures in place is likely to scare them off more. If you’ve built a good reputation before the pandemic and people are enjoying your service, product, restaurant or whatever else your business might be offering, then you are only making your reputation stronger by promising to keep them safe while they support your small business. Line up or not, if they feel safe they will still come.
- Employee Health Benefits
Next to your customers, your employees are the most important part of your small business. Even if you only have one or two employees, the business wouldn’t run without them, right? And just like your customers, the safety of your team matters too. How can you make your employees feel valued and safe in the workplace? By offering them great health benefits. Even as a small business owner, offering affordable benefits packages to even those few employees can make all the difference. A little peace of mind goes a long way for most people and your team deserves to know that they are covered should a health issue (COVID or otherwise) come up. Seek the help of a great professional team like the team at BP Group Solutions to see what options are available for your small business benefits.
- Analyze Your Costs
Sometimes when we start up a business, we incur costs for things that we could really do without. Things like steep marketing costs, subscription fees or other overhead costs should be closely considered during the pandemic. Do you really need them? While things like your marketing are still so important during a time like this, are there ways to lower your costs? Can you do some of the marketing yourself? Maybe an employee has some marketing skills. Could you move your business online so that you don’t have the cost of running a brick and mortar store with hardly anyone in it? Take a really close look at all those extra costs that it takes to run a small business and make some cuts where it’s feasible.
- Consider A Shift In How You Do Things
What does your business offer? Is there a product or service that you could add to your business in order to accommodate these times? Could you add masks, sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizer to your product list? Can you help more people remotely? What else is trending during the pandemic? A company in Calgary was supplying dry ice to businesses prior to COVID, but quickly shifted to targeting parents that were not at home and teaching their kids. Dry ice is perfect for fun science experiments and it gave them a new client base and kept them going. If you’re able to capitalize on anything new during this time, then you could make an entire business shift (in a good way) and end up with even more customers than before.
- Reach New People
If you are able to make a switch to a fully online business, or even partially online, use this to leverage a whole new audience and an abundance of new customers. The beauty of online is that you aren’t limited to the customers in your own community. Even a small business like yours can reach people all over the world using proper online marketing and strategies.
- Look at Other Small Businesses
As a small business owner, you should be well aware of who the competition is. Find out more about what they are doing to adapt to our “new normal” and see if you can compete with your own unique solution. Or better yet, is there another struggling business that you could band together with? Maybe you own a small floral shop and the home decor store down the road isn’t doing so well either…those two go hand in hand. Consider approaching a business that could mesh well with yours and find a plan that helps keep both your businesses alive during the pandemic.
As fellow small business owners, we understand how you feel at a time like this but it is possible for your business to survive and even come out stronger than before. Take it one day at a time, stay healthy and stay safe.