The Coronavirus crisis has hit the world hard and we are currently seeing times which none of us has ever imagined even in our worst nightmares. Not only has it derailed our normal life now, but it is widely expected that the ripple effects of this pandemic are going to rattle us for a long time in the future.
Survival of businesses has become a big question mark too. If you are a business owner, especially a small business owner, it is most likely that you are feeling the heat right now and wondering how to tide over the Coronavirus crisis in the best possible way. Business owners worldwide are now worried about business interruptions due to partial or complete loss of business hours, lack of Business, employee layoffs and at worst, complete closure of their business.
The biggest challenge in front of most businesses right now is to ensure that the cash flow does not dry up due to shrinking business, loss of customers and non-payment of dues by customers who might be themselves cash crunched.
So here are some things you can do to ensure that at least the bare minimum sales keep flowing in, so that your business generates the amount needed to meet up with the regular expenses.
While it is true that not every business will continue to survive the Coronavirus nightmare, let us discuss a few things you can do to face this challenge and ensure that your business stays afloat.
Tips For Fighting The Coronavirus Crisis
1. Control Your Emotions
Remember that as a business owner you are the captain of your ship. So, if you start panicking your entire team will sense that and will become unnerved. Hence you need to keep your cool and think about things that you can do to tide over the situation. If you lose your sleep over this, then your health will suffer, and the situation will worsen.
An important part of keeping your cool is to take care of your health. While you might be forced to stay at home due to a total or partial lock down in your country, you need to find ways to exercise regularly. Consider jogging up and down a staircase, on the rooftop, or any other place where there is adequate space.
2. Evaluate The Situation Carefully
One positive aspect of this lockdown is that it is leaving us with a lot of spare time. Use the time to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your business and evaluate the exact extent of the problem that it is facing due to the Coronvirus crisis. Once done, think of possible ways to rescue the business from it.
It is very important to control your emotions and take some rational decisions at this stage. Think through the decisions carefully multiple times before taking any steps, since these are the decisions that will either revive your business or sink it completely.
Hence, do not take any hasty decisions. Any knee-jerk reaction from your side might prove to be counter-productive and not help your business at all. Try to think of what you can do to make the situation better.
You may sometimes have to look back into the past to find things that you can do. For example, was there a product or service that you were selling earlier which had demand, but you discontinued selling it because of low margins? Can you bring it back to get some quick sales?
Think hard. In times like these, it is completely okay to rewind a bit and then scale up your business again once the Coronavirus crisis is over.
3. Seek Help
I do understand that keeping your head cool is easier said than done. If you are in a situation where you are not able to think clearly or might be panicking, then it will be a good idea to seek help from others. After all, who knows, maybe an idea by the junior-most employee in your organization may prove to be very useful in times like these.
Hence talk to your team, do brainstorming sessions with them and ask your mentor, well-wishers or anybody willing to give an honest advice. It is most likely that you will gather nuggets of wisdom from them that might show you the light at the end of the tunnel.
You may also interact with other entrepreneurs who might be able to help you out with your immediate worries. Since they are also running their businesses, learn from their experiences and benefit from their advice. You may also provide advice to them whenever you can. You will be surprised to see how this exercise will stimulate your thought process and may enable you to come up with an excellent idea for rescuing your business as well.
4. Be Transparent
I was recently talking to a fellow entrepreneur who was being forced to let go of the entire staff in one department. He was too sad about this and was hesitating to convey this bad news to them. Closure of the department is necessary to ensure the survival of the remaining business. However, he was under tremendous mental pressure since he is very close to that team and would do anything to retain them.
As a business owner, you will have to do things which are good for the organization even if you do not completely agree to it. Be transparent in such cases. Keeping the bad news to yourself is only going to increase your pain. Speak to the employees who are about to be laid off and explain to them that you are being forced to let them go.
In most cases, the employees will understand the situation and accept your decision. If you are not transparent with them, then you will increase your stress as well as reduce their time to find alternative employment.
5. Restructure Your Business Loan Payments
If you have taken a business loan, then paying the instalments might become a problem at this time. Negotiate with your lenders to give you a moratorium on your payments. In India, the apex bank Reserve Bank of India has already allowed the banks to give this facility to all their borrowers for 3 months.
If you are living in another country, then do the negotiations with your lenders yourself or apply for the government grants that your business might be eligible for.
The Coronavirus crisis need not be all about fire-fighting. Let us now talk about things that you can do to improve the cash flows of your business and make it future-ready.
1. Go Digital
If your business is a complete brick and mortar one, then it is highly likely that you have been hit by the lockdowns badly. Now it is time for you to consider building a website and start earning from online revenues. Full dependence on offline sales will not only endanger you to such situations if they happen again but may also jeopardize its existence in the future.
2. Scale Up Existing Online Sales
The Coronavirus crisis has hit the world hard and hardly there is any business which will be able to escape its impact completely. Here is a chart published by Moody’s which shows the industries in the USA which are likely to be impacted by Coronavirus crisis, along with the level of exposure they face.
Image source: Business Insider
The interesting thing to see here is that companies which are into essential services and the ones that are providing internet-based services are the ones which face a low exposure. Hence, if your business is online, you have a safety shield already and you need to now find out ways to scale it up further.
Put in efforts to increase the percentage of revenue that you earn from your online sales in the coming days and months. We do not know when this nightmare is going to end. So, this is the perfect time for you to grow your online sales.
3. Find New Work
If you provide consulting and/or freelancing services to other businesses, then this is the time to proactively lookout for companies which might be needing your services. At this time, the skills that you have might be in demand and by using them you can earn revenues as well as help entrepreneurs who might be struggling to keep their businesses afloat.
Explore various Facebook Groups for entrepreneurs and freelancing sites like Upwork to find people who are willing to hire you. Trust me it will be a win-win situation for both of you.
4. Train Your Employees
If your business is being forced to operate with reduced work hours since the Coronavirus crisis started, then your employees are having a lot of extra time in hand. Ensure that they utilize this time productively.
Make them learn a new skill by enrolling them in various online courses being offered by education portals like Udemy, Skillshare, edX, LinkedIn Learning and many others. They offer interesting courses taught by expert teachers. Make your employees learn something new from them so that once the situation normalizes, you can utilize their skills to grow your business.
5. Adopt The Work From Home Culture
I have been a supporter of work from home for a long time and at one point in time, I used to do it actively. Though there are several disadvantages of working from home, the advantages outweigh them. Therefore, I have always strongly believed that it is going to be the dominant mode of working in the future.
The Coronavirus crisis has forced almost every company in the countries that are facing lockdown to allow their employees to work from home. The positive side of this mandate is that even companies which never thought of working remotely have now found out ways to make at least some of their employees work from home to ensure business continuity. Most bigwigs of the world like Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Apple are now allowing their employees to work from home, and so are the smaller companies.
If you have not yet thought of providing the work from home option to your employees (which is very unlikely), then consider allowing it at least to a few key employees. You will soon see that not every employee needs to come to the office every day. By allowing them to work from home you will be sparing them from having to commute for long hours and also be saving on your overheads, thereby making your cash flows healthier.
The entire team of Inovaticus Marketing Solutions has been working from home since the middle of March 2020 and as on date the situation continues. However, our entire team is working harder than ever to help many businesses to stay afloat in these trying times.
If you need any help in taking your business online or scaling it up, feel free to connect with us immediately. We will be happy to help you to tide over the Coronavirus crisis in the best possible way.