Most small businesses know how to prepare for their busy season or a recession. No small business knows how to prepare for a sudden global pandemic like COVID-19, or Coronavirus.
The COVID-19 outbreak has led to a great deal of uncertainty, confusion and insecurity for many small businesses, their clients and their employees. However, those businesses that approach this situation with the right mindset will be able to turn any obstacle into an opportunity to help yourself and help others. Here are a few steps your small business can take to acclimate to the present and prepare for the future.
1) Focus On What’s Important
The midst of a global health crisis isn’t exactly the best time to pour your resources into an experimental new marketing campaign. After all, most business owners are looking to reserve money during this time of uncertainty, not spend money. Instead, use this situation to focus on what’s important – providing your clients and customers with the same top-notch work they are used to receiving. Take the current state of affairs into account and realize now is not the time to expand your business, but rather nurture your business where it is right now.
2) Keep Social Media Helpful, Not Humorous
A bit of humor can help to alleviate tension in many scenarios, but using your company’s social media platform to try to make COVID-19 into something funny could easily come across as insensitive. Consumers turn to social media for information about Coronavirus, not to see your company posting memes about stockpiling hand sanitizer. In this same vein, sharing fear-mongering posts could earn you a few unfollows from users looking to avoid frightening media consumption. Make your social media a calming presence by only sharing helpful, informative and factual posts. While humor should be avoided, lighthearted posts showcasing how your team is adjusting are always encouraged – especially when they involve photos of your pets in your new home office set up!
3) Review Your Business Accounts
It’s no surprise that as search trends change, web traffic and click-through rates will change as well. A global focus shift as rapid and severe as COVID-19 has undoubtedly had an effect on most markets, so it’s important to review all paid search and social accounts in order to keep track of how your business and your clients are faring. Stay on top of Google Analytics, Google Ads and any paid social media advertising accounts so you can prepare to adjust your marketing strategy should they take a hit.
4) Communicate Effectively
Small businesses especially are faced with a great deal of operational uncertainty during the Coronavirus outbreak. With this in mind, it’s crucial that you are able to communicate any changes being made to your business quickly and effectively if you want to maintain customer relationships. If your business is closing its doors temporarily, update your Google My Business listing to reflect this. If you are making any procedural changes – such as increased disinfecting or moving to an all-remote model – consider adding a page on your website explaining these adjustments. Your customers will appreciate you taking the initiative to keep them informed.
5) Catch Up On Delayed Projects
Meaning to clean up the back end of your website but haven’t had the time? How about that homepage design overhaul you’ve had in mind for months? A shift in the market is the perfect time to pick up on projects you’ve put off for one reason or another. You may not be able to benefit from revamping your business at this moment, but adding valuable upgrades and assets to your marketing strategy now will give your company a competitive advantage in the future.
6) Prioritize Your Employees
At the end of the day, the health, safety and peace of mind of your employees should be at the top of your list of priorities. Do everything in your power to keep their work environment as sanitary as possible, whether that means deep cleaning the office regularly, keeping their desks separated or working from home completely. With so much concern about their own wellbeing and the wellbeing of their loved ones, it’s your job as a small business owner to listen to your employees’ concerns and mitigate their fears to keep your business running as smoothly as possible.
7) Make Adjustments Where Possible
Creativity and flexibility will be your greatest assets while making adjustments to your business procedures that will keep customers happy and your company afloat. For example, a brick and mortar retailer might offer free two-day shipping to recoup the losses from fewer in-store purchases. A consulting firm might shift over to video calls rather than face-to-face meetings. Deviating from your standard operations might take some adjusting for your team and your customers, but establishing a sense of “the new normal” will help to get everyone back on track.
8) Manage Your Finances
One of the greatest uncertainties surrounding this pandemic is how it will affect our economy. For this reason, it’s important that you are mindful of your company’s finances until you have a better idea of how much and how long Coronavirus will impact your revenue. Mostly digital companies may not notice much of an income discrepancy for some time, but companies like restaurants who are forced to close their doors may need to get creative by promoting gift card sales to use at a later date.
9) Promote Positivity
From catching and spreading COVID-19 to the possibility of losing work, there’s a great deal to be nervous about in our current socioeconomic climate. However, it’s important as a business owner that you are able to promote positivity to prevent fear from spilling over into your workplace. Act as a pillar of support for your team and your clients who may have concerns about how Coronavirus will impact their lives both personally and professionally. Positivity is contagious, and one of the most impactful skillsets to tap into over the next few weeks is your ability to keep spirits high.
10) Plan For The Future
Although it might feel like it now, this isn’t the end of the world. When this situation becomes manageable, businesses who prepared proactively will find themselves in a much more stable situation than those who sat idly by waiting for things to get better. Use this time to create a new marketing strategy, including strategizing for upcoming promotions, content, social media and Google Ads. Preparedness includes preparing for the future, especially when you treat it as an opportunity to set your business up to succeed.
At the end of the day, your clients probably won’t remember the sales email you sent while self quarantining. Your employees probably won’t remember the funny GIF you sent to your remote team chat. What they will remember, however, is how you made them feel. Whether they’re in need of hope, support, or even just a sense of normalcy, it’s up to you to be there for them. COVID-19 fears will go away eventually, but something that will stick around much longer is the reminder of how your business took care of its people when they needed it the most.