The past few months have shown it clearly: COVID-19 has had a significant impact on all sectors of the economy. Small businesses, in particular, are among the hardest hit by the pandemic. From traditional small stores to online service companies, all business owners are struggling to adapt to this new reality and the ever-evolving aid programs, like the Emergency Account for Canadian Businesses ( CUEC).
Know how to assess the impact of the pandemic on your business, what to do to keep your business afloat right now, and how to best position it for the post-pandemic. The following five tips will help you create an action plan.
1. Plan for the future now
Lots of things – starting with establishing a plan, a budget and your priorities.
Customer demand: has it increased or decreased? Has it remained stable?
Employee working conditions: have some or all of your staff switched to telecommuting?
Supply issues from suppliers: can you still get parts or service on time?
Delivery options: have there been any changes?
Having a good overview of the current state of your business will help you identify areas that require your immediate attention and identify new opportunities attributable to the pandemic.
Make a plan to deal with pressing issues. This will provide you with a framework that will allow you to define the measures to be taken.
Once the initial plan is established, determine your priorities. Organize your plan around a timeline and budget. How much will the adjustments be? And where will the money come from? Several options are available to you.
If you haven’t already, you could temporarily shut down your business, or decrease your operations while you put the new plan in place.
The opportunity could also be perfect to develop a new range of products or a new service lease administration software according to the evolution of customer demands.
You might increase the prices, but it could hurt your image (customers might see the increase as a way to make money on their own).
2. Make a forecast
How will the economy and your local market look after the pandemic? To find your way in the current economic climate and prosper in the future, determine where you will be after the current crisis.
Will your best option be to reconnect with your customers or acquire new customers? How will the changes due to the pandemic affect your budget?
Be flexible. Expect to have to adapt and revise your forecasts as the COVID-19 situation evolves.
3. Take care to consider different scenarios
Ensuring the survival and prosperity of your business without knowing the impact the pandemic will continue to have on the economy is no easy task. That’s why the best way to prepare is to consider several different scenarios and plan an answer for each of them.
What could be your new normal? Some possible scenarios:
Permanent switch to telework for some or all employees
Launch of a digital service offer (or expansion of the current offer)
Launch of a curbside delivery service (or expansion of the current service)
Opening of your physical location by appointment only
4. Maintain the culture of your company and emphasize the importance of taking care of yourself.
If your establishment is closed, see this period of inactivity as an opportunity to consolidate your intangible assets. Nurture the culture of your company and support the well-being and mental health of employees so that everyone is at their peak after the pandemic.
Go over your mission statement and remind your team what makes your business and corporate culture unique by emailing them often or having regular chat sessions or Zoom calls. Find ways to bring your employees together, whether it’s virtual activities or face-to-face meetings that follow physical distancing rules.
Show your team how to take care of yourself mentally and physically. This could be minimizing exposure to news reports to better manage anxiety or, for telecommuters, sticking to a strict end-of-day time. You could also issue a physical activity challenge to all employees using a fitness app or weekly video calls.
5. Only resume your activities when you are ready to do so.
Across the country, shops, offices and restaurants are slowly resuming their activities, but we are far from “back to normal”. If your business is well established, don’t feel pressured to return to servic