How to Reopen Your Small Business After COVID-19 Lockdowns
The Coronavirus has interrupted our lives and shut down small businesses around the country. As a business owner, you may be in a hurry to reopen your business and get things back to normal.
As rules and restrictions continue to ease, it’s important to have a post-COVID-19 plan in place to navigate new ways of doing business. This will help you assess where you are and determine how you can move your business forward to operate in a safe and profitable way.
Here are some ideas you can use as you prepare to reopen your small business.
Assess Your Financial Situation
Before you can move forward, you need a realistic picture of how your business has fared during this challenging time. If you haven’t looked at the numbers, it’s time to analyze your profits, losses, and cash flow.
Although many businesses have taken a drastic hit, the damage may not be insurmountable. A realistic plan for the future is the first step for a successful rebound.
Compare the numbers to last year’s data to see where your business stands financially. Before you can formulate a plan, you must consider other ways COVID-19 has impacted your business, including employee layoffs, furloughs, and terminations.
If you’ve shut down completely or had to cut your advertising budget, your customers may have moved on to your competitors. You must consider all of this as you look for the financial resources you’ll need to recover.
Reimagine Your Business Plan
Your business model may have been working great before COVID-19 reared its ugly head, but what was working then may not translate perfectly today. It’s time to consider how your business will adjust to the “new normal.”
If your business relies on foot traffic, you may need to expand your digital presence to increase sales. Take a look at what your competitors are doing and how they’re adjusting to new ways of doing business.
Pay attention to trends in your industry and how you can fill a gap or address a need. Have a realistic picture of the strengths and weaknesses of your business model. What was working before may need tweaking for you to remain competitive with other companies.
Even as businesses reopen and things seem to return to normal, many customers will be hesitant to change or return to pre-COVID-19 practices. If you shifted your business practices to stay open during the pandemic, consider continuing those convenient options for customers as you return to normal operations.
Consider Sources of Funding for Your Small Business
Unless you had a strong cash reserve heading into the pandemic, you’re likely to need additional sources of funding as you attempt to revamp your business’s operations. As you think about financing for your business, there are many options to consider.
The SBA is an obvious starting place, and there are many other options as well. Some of these include:
- The Paycheck Protection Program
- Economic Injury Disaster Loans
- Traditional SBA 7(a) loans
- Lines of credit
- Business credit cards
- Accounts receivable financing
- Equipment financing
- Purchase order financing
Every finance option has its pros and cons. Some options such as accounts receivable financing are useful for short-term financing. But they require leverage. If business is slow, you may have difficulty getting approved.
Alternative financing usually has higher annual percentage rates than traditional business loans or lines of credit. If you are seeking financing at this time, borrowing is competitive. Lenders are looking for reassurance of loan repayment.
Review the financial situation of your business and personal credit score to gauge your likelihood for approval. The good news is there are multiple avenues for funding. You just have to find the right solution for your business needs.
Revisit Your Budget
To get your business off the ground again, you may need to spend some money upfront. You may need to hire and train new employees or rehire former ones. You may need to purchase new inventory or revamp your advertising campaign.
Whatever the need, you have to make decisions about your operating budget. This may lead you to make cuts in some areas or even take a pay cut to get back into action. This could include using personal savings or relying on your spouse’s income to keep your business afloat.
Every situation is unique, so what works for one business may not work for yours. It’s important to take an honest look at your budget and the kind of money you need to move forward.
Create a TimeLine
Getting your business moving again may seem overwhelming because there’s so much to consider. Doing it all at once may not be realistic. Creating a timeline to prioritize your actions is a good first start.
For example, if you have an immediate need for employees, set a timeline to accomplish this first. Then, follow with your list of priorities in order of importance, such as advertising, restocking shelves, and opening your doors. As you move through your timeline, be sure to track your progress.
This is particularly important if you’ve borrowed money. You want to focus on ways to ensure a solid return on your investment. It’s a good idea to review your financials each week at first. As you move back into a smooth routine, keep track of what’s working and how you can continue to grow your business in the future.
Evaluate Remote Work Policies
During the pandemic, many small businesses have ventured into remote work for the first time. And some have found great success with alternative work options. If you find that remote work has been beneficial for your business and your employees, consider retaining remote employees once the pandemic is over.
Decide what tasks employees can manage from home and what should be done on site. Choose employees who work well on their own and set clear expectations for what you expect.
Employees appreciate flexible work options. Working from home is a viable option for individuals who have children at home or other family members to care for. It’s also a good option to help manage social distancing in the workplace.
Plan for Employee Safety
Before you go back to business as usual, you must plan for the health and safety of your employees. Some employees will be reluctant to come back to work unless they know you’re looking out for them.
A safe workplace includes frequent cleanings and extra attention to areas such as bathrooms, counter spaces, break rooms, and other high-traffic spots. You can refer to the CDC’s suggestions for more information about cleaning and disinfecting of public spaces.
Be sure that employees have easy access to masks and gloves if needed. Consider implementing regular wellness or temperature checks to ensure only healthy employees are coming to work. Try relaxing your sick leave policy to discourage sick employees from showing up.
When possible, allow employees to work from home and other remote locations. Educate your employees on the virus and your company’s plan to keep everyone as safe and healthy as possible.
Keep Your Customers Safe
If you’re taking steps to protect your employees, you’re already thinking of your customers as well. If your business experiences high foot traffic, you may need to consider additional ways to protect your customers. Review the local, state, and federal guidelines for capacity limits.
You may need to implement a plan for social distancing. This may require changes to your isles, seating, checkout locations, or more. You may need to install plastic guards in certain areas to limit contact between employees and customers.
Depending on your business, you may want to require customers to wear a mask. In some states, this is a requirement for certain businesses.
To avoid losing customers as they enter your business, consider providing masks at the door. Protect your employees and other customers by posting a sign discouraging anyone who’s feeling unwell from entering your business.
Show Your Humanity
The Coronavirus has affected us all in some capacity. Even in times of struggle, there are still ways for your business to give back to the community. This is good for your community and your brand.
In time, this crisis will pass. For now, we are all learning ways to carry on and grow from this experience.
You may have realized you weren’t prepared for a crisis. Here are some tips for being prepared in the future.
- Have a savings account for your business for times of need or disaster.
- Have a personal reserve of at least 3 months of living expenses.
- Stock up on personal care products and food basics.
- Consider new ways to make money or diversify your business.
Reopening Your Small Business
Just like you, many business owners are looking for ways to keep their small business afloat during these trying times. If you are looking for ways to finance your reopening, we’d love to assist you.
Your business needs are our top priority. Contact us today to learn more.