Believe, Adapt, Survive: The COVID-19 Small Business Plan

There’s no small business manual on how to survive a pandemic. There’s no Bible, no go-to scripture verse for guidance. There’s no “In Case Of Pandemic Emergency, Break Glass” Button. There’s no pre-existing rules, guidelines or CliffNotes for American small businesses to work off of as they try to survive the greatest economic survival challenge in modern American history.

There’s just millions of moms and pops trying stay afloat in the most unpredictable and challenging business climate imaginable. Even with America’s economy reopening in most states, a potential approaching second wave of COVID-19 has many small business owners struggling to see the light at the end of this dark tunnel that has been 2020. A CNBC survey in March at the dawn of the pandemic showed only 50 percent of U.S. small business owners believed they’d be able to operate through June. 

COVID-19 has declared global, thermal, nuclear warfare on America’s small businesses. As of June 29, the vicious jobs killer has claimed 47.1 Americans’ paychecks over the last 14 weeks. Oxford Economics cautions the numbers “paint a picture of a job market in turmoil.”

“Nobody feels this pinch greater than small and medium business owners,” CEO Today Magazine writes. “They have to keep employees under salary while receiving a fraction of their former incomes.”

And as COVID-19 surges in many states, Bloomberg Businessweek reminds us we are far from in the clear. It’s essential for business owners to submit their Payback Protection Program by the Tuesday, June 30 deadline. The Federal Reserve warned in a June 12 monetary policy report that the pandemic “poses acute risks to the survival of many small businesses.”

“The path ahead is extraordinary uncertain,” the report warned. 

How to Stay Afloat On an Angry Ocean

Here’s CEO Today Magazine’s 5 Musts to Stay Financially Afloat in a COVID-19 America:

  1. Find Sources of Liquidity
  2. Find Ways To Access Capital
  3. Advocate for Small Businesses
  4. Protect Your Business From Cyber Threats
  5. Take Time To Strategize  

Today, small businesses must think outside the box more than ever before. They must reinvent themselves to weather the COVID-19 tide. Take your pre-COVID-19 business model, the sound plan that was working great in February 2020, and re-evaluate, or if needed, throw it out completely.

Adapt & Survive

Here are some ideas to explore when looking to adapt your business to compete in the COVID-19 business world:

  • Offer your services virtually when possible, using email, phone and video conferencing.
  • Sell goods directly to consumers through an online marketplace.
  • Explore new discounts, sales and free shipping to draw in new customers.
  • Offer new goods or services that people are in need of now (for example, hand sanitizer). 
  • Stay in touch with your community, and learn of the service needs your city needs.

And more than ever, go 100 percent digital. Use your social media presence to keep your customers up to date. You want to make it easy for them to purchase your product and services. Old school marketing will not help you survive in the COVID-19 American business climate.

“If you typically don’t use social media, it may now be time to build one,” Entrepreneur Magazine’s Mark J. Kohler advises. 

CG Web Strategy has you covered on this one.

Also ask yourself, given today’s conditions, what resonates with consumers that you can provide?

“This is a good time to focus on your existing customers, provide excellent service, make sure you retain your important relationships and customers,” Kohler writes. “Let any key relationships know you are still there and can be of service.”

Tough times don’t last, but tough people do. Remember, your business and its people have weathered many a storm over the years, including – for many – the great recession of 2008. Having a sound business survival plan built for the uncertainties of today and tomorrow will keep you and your people here and thriving. Be there for your customers, your neighbors and your community.

For we all need each other to survive COVID-19.

“Try to serve and help those in your community,” Kohler stresses. “The more you help others worse off than you, the better you’ll feel.

“As even a short history of the United States has shown, this too will pass and we should do all we can to help one another through it while we all learn and grow from this trial.”

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