If you own a small business, there’s a good chance that you’ve had to navigate uncharted waters for a considerable portion of the past six months. And as social distancing policies and safety concerns continue to shift consumer shopping patterns and overall needs in response to COVID-19, more and more businesses are still scrambling to simply stay afloat. Not only have they had to implement a slew of improved cleaning procedures and install safety features that permit lower-risk interactions with their customers and clients, most have also been forced to seek out new ways of doing business altogether, dreaming up new products and services in order to meet new consumer demand. It’s an emotionally and financially difficult position for any business, which is why it’s important that they seek out strategies that buoy their interests, as well as their assets, if even for just a few months. Here are three options for protecting your business during this crazy time:
Federal Relief Programs
The U.S. government passed the CARES Act at the end of March which provides “$376 billion in relief to American workers and small businesses.” Although the first round of loans has already been dispersed, there are still opportunities for businesses with 500 employees or less to apply for some of the remaining funds through an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). An EIDL allows up to $2 million of capital for small businesses experiencing a loss of revenue due to COVID-19 and includes a forgivable advance of $10,000 which is available within a few days of an application’s acceptance. In addition, many small businesses with existing loans can apply for aid programs designed to relieve some of their debt burden (such as an SBA Bridge Express Loan or SBA Debt Relief). Any of these programs offer economic assistance to cover the effects of the current pandemic.
Market research is part of any company’s success. During a crisis, it becomes critical because it helps decision makers allocate resources more effectively. When a situation — such as a global pandemic — threatens normal business practices, having direct access to various segments of a population means a company can quickly and easily assess consumer thoughts and behavior and develop a strategy for addressing any changing needs. Whether professionally constructed or done in-house, market research can provide the insight a business needs to stay ahead of the competition.
Robust communication amongst the entirety of a company’s shareholders is also crucial for maintaining trust, a business’s most valuable asset. Indeed, recognizing current circumstances and communicating your plans to address them show employees, customers, suppliers and management alike that you not only have a plan and are working hard to implement it, but that you respect your partners enough to keep them informed even in the midst of chaos. Communication allows everyone to remain connected, educated and informed and encourages people to continue supporting you even when it’s hard. In short, trust breeds loyalty, making it easy for stakeholders to positively report on your products, policies and procedures and come back to you again and again!