If your business is feeling the pain of COVID-19, you’re not alone.
According to a Goldman Sachs study conducted last month, 96% of small business owners say the outbreak had already impacted them. And worse, 51% report that their business will only be able to continue to operate for 0-3 months.
Yet many are still clinging to the way they’ve always done things, hoping for the return of business as usual. They withdraw and allow themselves to become paralyzed by fear, but that stagnation can be catastrophic.
The hard truth: we’re operating in unprecedented times, and what’s worked for your small business in the past is no longer relevant.
Instead, you need to shift your mindset to think about your business in a completely different way. Because right now, the best way to protect your business is to ‘break’ it, metaphorically speaking, letting go of outdated processes and notions to make way for innovative strategies and solutions.
They only way out of this crisis is through taking actions and thinking differently; here are four suggestions on how to do that:
1. Rethink your entire process and every element of your business
Your business has a workflow and process with many stages. A restaurant, for example, has to buy ingredients, cook the food, attract customers, serve them, process their bills, and then clean their tables, among other things. But with the new normal of quarantine, no one is coming to your restaurant to dine out—now what?
You must rethink your entire process and the way that you serve customers, breaking each step down into separate chunks and potential revenue streams. Some easy swaps might be offering the ability to order online and temporarily converting your wait staff into delivery people.
Don’t be afraid to look even earlier in your process. The food suppliers you source from have also been affected by the coronavirus, and likely have a surplus of goods—can buy those ingredients now and freeze or store them for later? Better yet, maybe you can create meal ingredient kits that you can sell and pair with a link to a free YouTube video from your chef, teaching people how to prepare your signature dishes at home. The key is to move away from what you’ve always done and to think about what’s possible.
2. Ask yourself how you can integrate with and help your community
As a small business owner, you already offer products or services utilized by the community. In the current environment, needs have shifted, so unpack your power and think of how you and your business can serve your local partners in new ways.
For instance, our CPA firm created a helpful COVID-19 Resources and Information document for small businesses and provided free financial advice and review of financial packages before submitting for loans or grants. If you own a clothing company, you could pivot to start producing fabric masks for the public. And a print shop could use its 3D printers to manufacture large quantities of ear guards for essential workers who are wearing masks nonstop.
Your immediate help will not only be appreciated by your local community, but your acts of service also build trust and goodwill. When this crisis is over, your business will be remembered as one that stepped up and offered assistance to those in need.
3. Use this time to pause and reset
For some small business owners, the best thing to do is to take time off to reassess. COVID-19 has forced many to sit down and take a hard look at their business plans. And if you’re like most, you only created a plan when you first opened your business and never revised it. Now is the time to start over and rethink everything.
An excellent place to start is your “why” to rediscover what motivated you to start your business in the first place. Compare that with how you’re feeling now—has your motivation changed? Does your vision look different? Shift your perspective to see this as an opportunity to look at things differently, and possibly create something new. Rather than feeling trapped, let the constraints you face now fuel your innovation as you plan for the future.
4. Don’t go it alone.
There’s a saying that applies in business and life: “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.”
Even if you’ve always handled all of your business’s aspects on your own, the time has come to drop your ego. No one succeeds alone, and in the current pandemic state, coming together with other business experts is essential for small business survival.
Business owners and executives should reach out to these professionals:
- Tax CPAs, who can help them be proactive with tax planning and monitoring all of their qualified credits
- Insurance brokers, who understand the business interruption of revenue loss clause, and can negotiate the payment terms on idle properties and vehicles.
- Bankers, especially those from small banks, who have become the unsung heroes for small business owners by accessing much-needed cash
- Attorneys, who can navigate through all the HR issues and legal ramifications, and retrieve the company’s articles of incorporation.
- Marketing experts, who can help you reposition your business and create relevant messaging
- And, last but not least, financial partners, who can guide you through these tumultuous times. For the first time in history, these professionals helped companies directly bring cash into their businesses by obtaining coveted Payroll Protection Program loans and then ensure the funds received were used to strengthen business operations.
Surround yourselves with a group of strong supporters who genuinely want to work with you to help your business succeed.
Remember, only the companies that think differently and remain open to change will weather this storm. For your business to not only survive but thrive, you must take action.