This blog was originally planned to be a continuation of the “Customer Magnet” series. However, given the state of the economy and what is happening with the COVID-19 epidemic, I felt it was necessary to deviate a little this week. We will continue the series again in next week’s blog.
What’s A Small Business Owner To Do?
As a business strategist, I am always emphasizing to my clients the importance of performing a S.W.O.T. analysis to incorporate a mitigation strategy for potential Market Threats that could impact their businesses. Things like weather-related threats, economic fluctuations, and commodity shortages can be managed strategically. The question is, how do you strategically plan for an epidemic threat that hasn’t been experienced in more than a century? Even I couldn’t prepare for that. The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is unlike any threat we’ve had to encounter in our lifetimes. The ramifications are global and will negatively impact every industry. When reports state that a possible immunization may be 12-months down the road…chances of a quick turnaround seem daunting.
All of the television and radio broadcasts, emails, and text messages citing CDC guidelines have been focused on protecting ourselves, our families and employees. But how do we protect our business? In the past two weeks, I have had 70 percent of the marketing/sales opportunities on my calendar dry up. The ramifications if left untethered could be fatal for my business. Fortunately, there are other options and revenue streams that I could focus on during this period of indecision. Some of these other opportunities, which have been residing on the backburner while I carried on the day-to-day activities of building my business, can now be focused on entirely. Things like developing educational and certification programs that have until now been less of a priority, or my Charged-Up Studio Podcast which has been to this point treated as a branding tool rather than the revenue-generating opportunity that it could be.
Calm In The Storm Of Uncertainty
During turbulent times like these, we all have to keep a clear head and not panic. Common sense prevails when making critical decisions. Take a step back and re-examine the opportunities available to you. How can you add another vertical layer to your existing offering(s) that could circumvent the current roadblocks that this virus presents? Here are a few key steps that you as a business owner could implement to protect your business during this unstable period.
- First and foremost, take an inventory of the various avenues the virus could gain access to and infect your vendors, employees, and customers. Remember, this epidemic is global. Therefore, if you import or export goods, the potential of infection is vastly increased. Take concerted efforts to ensure that everything and everyone is protected. Make a point of communicating this to all of your employees, vendors, and customers. Assign a point person to stay in contact with everyone to keep them updated regularly.
- Provide options for employees to work remotely with regular communication. Invest in work-from-home technology to provide seamless integration to remote working environments.
- H.R. 6198 has been introduced to the House through Ways and Means to provide emergency paid leave benefits to certain individuals affected by COVID-19, and for other purposes. Possible recourse for employees affected directly.
- Ensure that you have the financial safeguards in place to draw on should revenues slip periodically. It is extremely difficult to conduct day-to-day business worrying about paying the bills. This is a period you want to feel confident that should you need temporary financial assistance you are protected. There are various federal resources available for help and assistance like:
- The Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loans: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/Information/EIDLLoans
- The Department of Revenue has programs in place for the declared state of emergencies offering assistance with deferred tax payments. They are also working with banking and financial institutions, as well as utility, telecom and mortgage provide for relief. Reach out to the FDOR to find out what may be in place for you https://floridarevenue.com/
- Reach out to your banks and financial institutions directly to find out if they have any programs in place to ease the financial burden temporarily.
- Look into Business Interruption Insurance. Most small businesses don’t realize that this protection exists.
- Look for alternative resources for inventory or resources in the event of supply chain interruption. Monitor shipping methods and delivery routes to make sure their shipments aren’t infected. You should expect each supplier to provide you with a plan of action on how to mitigate your risk.
- Take a step back and examine offerings. Determine susceptibility and ways that you could continue delivering offerings with minimum risk to contamination. For example, virtual delivery, enhancing production measures, improved systems and methods geared toward customer experience enhancement.
- Evaluate your sales plan. If your salespeople have been stymied by travel restrictions, you may need to reorient their activities, so they are working productively. Leaning on marketing for digital tools such as white papers, case studies and testimonials may be amplified at a time when salespeople might be immobile. In some companies where the business is conducted face-to-face, a sales slump could follow.
- If your volume is low, institutionalize work procedures and cross-train. Consider whether you have other offices that can pitch in or outsource alternatives for entire functions. Cross-training will be critical if you find yourself short a significant number of workers.
- Pull together an experimental R&D/Strategic team to explore new ways and means of meeting customer needs. While service businesses may be able to continue operating in some way, other companies, such as restaurants or local movie theaters, will have to think hard about how to manage staff and cash flows if people stop going out. What is your plan B? Do you offer a more attractive home-delivery service? Perhaps you ensure patrons the various methods being utilized to eliminate the risk of the spread of the virus in movie theatres (i.e. hand protection, access to viral detection technology, etc)
Bottom line…do not panic! Proceed with business as usual. Perhaps delivery methods may be altered…additional funds diverted to enhancing protective measures…expedient introduction of product/service offerings that were already in the development pipeline, etc. Focus on community and proactive measures rather than reacting to the problem as a victim ensuring we all come out on the other side safe and healthy.
Danna is a Business Growth Strategist and CEO of MarketAtomy, LLC. Her passion is working with small first stage entrepreneurs to ensure that they start out on the right foot and stay on the path to financial freedom. Known as the Business Birthing Specialist, Danna understands the intricacies involved in starting and running a successful business. As an intricate component ingrained into her client’s business structure, she works diligently to keep her clients accountable and on track to fulfilling their success goals.
A graduate of the University of Central Florida’s College of Business. She brings more than 35 years of strategic planning experience in business, marketing and business development both nationally and internationally.
Danna is not only a professional business growth strategist but has worked Internationally within the country of Brazil. She is a public speaker and four-time #1 Best Selling Author on Amazon.
To reach Danna at MarketAtomy, LLC email firstname.lastname@example.org.