8 Tips To Help Small Businesses Bounce Back from COVID
Small businesses have been hit disproportionately hard by Covid-19, but that doesn’t mean business owners can’t fight back. Overcoming the Covid business impact on your company can feel insurmountable, but there are actions small business owners can take, and resources they can lean on, to start rebuilding the damages caused by the pandemic.
That’s why we compiled a list of eight small business tips to help business owners take their first steps on the path to recovery. Read on to learn more about what you can do to help your small business bounce back, even in the era of Covid-19.
Many small businesses have needed to react swiftly over the past few months to keep up with the demands of the escalating pandemic. But don’t feel pressured to keep up this pace as you look ahead. Take time to review your finances thoroughly, and develop a long-term plan and timeline for getting back on your feet. Remember, this will almost certainly need to happen over time, not all at once. Set measurable and realistic goals along the way.
As you lay out your plans, remember to take the long view on the pandemic as well. While it’s nice to be agile and adaptable, don’t let that be your business model by default. With infection rates climbing in many states, including California, it’s prescient to hatch a plan that allows your business to recover and rebuild even if coronavirus-related conditions worsen before they improve.
If your business has been negatively impacted by Covid-19 (as over half of U.S. small businesses reportedly have), explore funding and relief opportunities, and be comprehensive in your search. Even if you don’t find success with the federal Paycheck Protection Program or the Economic Injury Disaster Loan and Advance, there may be other resources available to you. The state of California has compiled a list of potential resources, including the Small Business Disaster Relief Loan Guarantee Program, and many other states and municipalities have, too.
You may also want to consider loan programs beyond Covid-19 relief. For instance, the U.S. Small Business Administration has compiled lists of funding opportunities for women-owned businesses, LGBT-owned businesses, and more. And RebuildOur has created a step-by-step guide for creating GoFundMe fundraisers.
- Seek out support groups.
With that said, securing relief funding can be difficult and demoralizing. You’re not alone in feeling that way. Know that there are organizations dedicated to helping small businesses rebound from Covid-19.
At RebuildOur, our mission is to help small businesses rebuild their livelihood by amplifying their voices and providing resources, through an inclusive community. We work with small businesses personally to provide support. There are also national groups, such as Main Street Alliance, intent on advocating for small businesses, as well as many localized groups. Get in touch with them to learn about the support they may be able to provide you.
Invest in the “Covid-proof” parts of your business, or the facets that don’t require sustained, in-person interactions. This could mean ramping up your capabilities online, offering curbside and delivery services, or taking a renewed interest in your social media campaigns.
You should ensure any updates align with your long-term plan before undertaking a substantial financial investment – but it’s likely these measures will inherently be good for your business’s overall health. Investing in technology, such as QR codes that minimize customers’ need to touch surfaces, may also prove useful.
It’s also likely that you’ll have to spend a hefty amount on safety retrofitting. This could include paying for new sanitation regimens, thermometers, PPE supplies, and more. Although these safety features could be essential for the health of your employees and customers, and your business, relief packages haven’t included specific funding for them. Nonetheless, it’s important to set aside budget for these expenses – the return on your investment in the form of employee and customer well-being will be well worth it.
While you’ll likely have to allocate part of your budget to new safety precautions and business strategies, you might be able to cut spending elsewhere. Compare your typical expenses with your long-term plan and make sure you’re not still paying for services you’ll no longer need. (Are you scaling up your online offerings? Then maybe you can reduce the inventory in your brick and mortar store.)
And while there are some expenses you won’t be able to cut out in full, you may be able to negotiate for lower fares, such as on rent or other loan payments.
Train a watchful eye on the other businesses in your industry. Keep up with your competitors on social media and see how they’ve adjusted their business strategy. Keep an eye on high profile businesses, too, and the public’s reactions to their approach. Then assess: What’s working for them? What’s not? And how can you adopt best practices while continuing to differentiate your business from the rest?
Now may also be the time to develop, or maintain, rapport with other small business owners in your community. Everyone is likely learning as they go, but peer learning can help prevent repeating others’ mistakes.
Treat employees, customers, and yourself with kindness and compassion. Consider your employees’ safety the top priority as you decide how and when to reopen your business, and make sure your employees have agency in your decision-making processes. Similarly, treat customers with respect and patience – even the ones who may not be showing you the same graces. This is good business practice (in addition to a good life skill) – you need a loyal base for your business to prosper in the long run.
And don’t forget to dole out a large helping of that compassion for yourself. Covid-19 has been universally challenging. Cut yourself some slack and give yourself credit for the work you’re doing to bounce back.
Author: Hannah Magnuson
Hannah Magnuson is a freelance writer and editor who holds degrees in Journalism and English from Northwestern University and Loyola University Chicago.