As the economic impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) increases, what steps can you take to keep your employees and customers safe while minimizing the impact on your business?
There is a lot of uncertainty regarding the COVID-19 virus. But as medical practitioners learn more about the virus, business conditions can change very rapidly. In addition to worrying about friends and family, you might be thinking about the future of your business. Including what you can do right now. Is there anything you can do to avoid having to let employees go, prevent revenue loss, and assure continuity?
While the ways that coronavirus will affect your business depend on your industry, your location, and the nature of products or services you offer, there are some measures you can implement now to minimize the impact of this unexpected disruption.
Stay Informed and Over Communicate
As a business owner, it’s important to stay up to date on news about the coronavirus. Specifically, you should be aware of current restrictions (both business and personal), and updated guidelines on how to minimize the spread of the virus. Doing so will allow you to make the most informed decisions on how to adjust operations.
It’s also vital to keep your employees updated on how you plan to adjust your business operations. And how these changes will affect their workdays. Such a regular practice will help employees be prepared for any changes. This can alleviate some of the stress surrounding the situation.
Keeping up with the press about the COVID-19 virus can be taxing and confusing, so it’s best to follow the official CDC guidelines.
Take Care of Your Employees
One of the most important things you can do as an employer is to encourage employees to stay at home if they or someone in their immediate social circle is sick. Social distancing is one of the most powerful defenses against the spread of COVID-19, alongside handwashing.
Depending on your industry, you might not have the option to allow your employees to work from home or to shut down operations completely. However, there are measures you can implement in both scenarios.
- Make it easier to stay at home — Waive the need for a doctor’s note to stay at home, and allow employees to stay at home if someone in their family is sick.
- Review sick leave policies — One of the biggest concerns for many employees, especially hourly workers, is the loss of income. To further encourage sick employees to stay at home, see how you can introduce flexible sick leave policies.
- Increase cleaning routines — Handwashing and hand sanitizers lose some of their effect if the work environment isn’t cleaned properly. Things like doorknobs, keyboards, remote controls, and desks are the types of surfaces that should be cleaned more often.
- Limit work-related travel — Depending on how active the virus is, some regions might remain closed longer than others. Airports and other high pedestrian traffic areas should be avoided if possible. Check the CDC’s traveler’s health page for the latest updates.
- Help avoid stigma and discrimination — Do not make determinations of risk based on the race or country of origin of your employees or their families.
Make Changes to Your Operations
Shifting to a remote work culture can be a great way to reduce the risk of your employees contracting the virus. While in-person sales may be a challenge, now is a great time to catch up on marketing and other tasks that will lead to future revenue.
- Review and clean up customer lists (your CRM if you use one).
- Spend some time identifying and contacting new prospect customers to close once normal business resumes.
- Revise and enhance your digital assets: website, social media profiles, and ads.
- Rekindle relationships that may have dwindled recently.
- Get a Clear Picture of Your Financial Situation
Now more than ever it’s important to know how your business is doing financially. If you haven’t done so already, get an overview of your cash flow for the next few months. It’s impossible to predict exactly how your operations will be affected. However, it’s smart to be prepared for a worst-case scenario.
A good rule of thumb is to have at least three months of cash on hand. If that is not the reality for you, financing might be a good option to consider. Luckily, there are already multiple financial programs in place for businesses that will suffer financially from COVID-19.
The U.S Small Business Association plans to work with state governors to offer low-interest loans for small businesses impacted by the coronavirus. Additionally, a small business can get a loan up to $2 million through The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program to help recover from temporary revenue loss.
Online lenders are another good source for small business loans, as they often have less stringent requirements than traditional lenders. Setting up a cash flow projection can help you see how the potential loan will affect your business. Both now and once operations return back to normal.
Be Prepared and Avoid Panic
With so many unknown factors surrounding the coronavirus, it’s important to focus on the things you can control. By being prepared for revenue loss and supply chain bottlenecks, you are already doing a lot to ensure that your business stays operational. More importantly, be sure to get your information from trusted sources and make adjustments accordingly.