Some of the strategies you can use to keep your small business running during the Covid-19 crisis include:
1. Delivering products/services to the customers
During the Covid-19 crisis, many people are afraid of visiting business premises. They fear contracting the virus there. They are more open to the concept of home or office deliveries. That is about them placing orders for the products or services they need, then having those products or services delivered to their homes or offices. Thus one way you can get your small business to survive the Covid-19 crisis is by setting up a home/office delivery system. You would thereafter be delivering products or services to the customers. That is as opposed to just sitting in your business’ premises and hoping that customers will come the way they always did in the normal/pre-corona times. Remember, if the businesses you are competing against are offering delivery services to their customers and you are not, it would mean that you are operating a huge disadvantage. So you need to figure out a way of delivering whatever you are selling to your customers, as opposed to waiting for the customers to come and buy it from your business’ premises. The process is quite straightforward. First, you acquire (by buying, leasing or renting) the vehicle you would be using to deliver your products or services to the customers. Then you hire the people who are to do the door-to-door deliveries. Then you publicize the fact that you are offering home deliveries (or office deliveries) so that the targeted customers can start taking advantage of them. You just need to ensure that you have a system through which you can get the locations of the various customers correctly. Then ensure that you deliver whatever the customers order in a timely manner. The system may work so well that you end up retaining it even after the end of the Covid-19 crisis (whenever that will be). You just need to think deeply. Whatever product or service you are selling, there surely has to be a way in which it can be taken to the customer [as opposed to insisting that the customer come for it].
2. Cutting back on unnecessary expenses
Your business’ revenues are likely to have fallen, due to the disruptions caused by Covid-19. One way to deal with this challenge is by cutting back on unnecessary expenses. The ultimate goal is to keep your business running, in spite of the lower revenues coming in. But if you continue to incur the expenses that you were incurring during the normal times, yet the amount of money that is coming in has gone down, you are likely to have difficulties. You may find that the expenses are actually more than the revenue coming in – meaning that you would be operating at a loss. That is bound to happen if you continue incurring the expenses you were incurring during normal times. So you need to identify the expenses you can afford to cut back on without hurting your business’ performance. It may be a matter of downsizing your workforce. It may be a matter of moving your business to less expensive premises. It may be a matter of cutting back on your marketing expenditure… or anything else along those lines. In the final analysis, the process of cutting back on expenses is likely to entail some drastic and perhaps painful steps. For instance, you may be forced to shift your business from the (expensive) premises you are presently operating at, to cheaper premises elsewhere. In that case, the task of looking for cheaper yet suitable premises would almost certainly be a very taxing one. And once you have found the cheaper premises, actually moving your business (equipment, inventory… and so on) would be equally tiring. Add to that the challenge of getting your customers to get used to the new premises. Yet if that is what you have to do to keep your business afloat, then, by all means, you should do it. Similarly, if you opt to cut expenses by downsizing your workforce, it would almost certainly be gut-wrenching experience. Having to lay off people who have served you well, for no fault of their own can be very painful. Yet if that is what it takes to keep your business going (and keep the rest of the workforce employed) then you would just have to do it.
3. Connecting with customers through social media
In the wake of the Covid-19 crisis (and the movement restrictions that have come with it), it is possible to lose the connection you have always had with your customers. Yet this emotional connection with customers is very important. It is on account of it that the customers opt to buy from you and not from your competitors. You therefore have to find a way of maintaining that connection, notwithstanding the Covid-19-related restrictions. The ultimate objective is to ensure that your business remains in the customers’ minds. This is where social media can come in handy. Through properly designed social media posts, it is possible for you to not only connect with your existing customers, but also to acquire new ones.
4. Renegotiating with lenders and landlords
Covid-19 may cause the revenue coming into your business to fall drastically. Subsequently, you may be at risk of failing to meet your obligations to the lenders you had taken loans from. You may even be at risk of failing to meet your rent obligations, if you are operating from rented premises. The way to tackle this challenge is by renegotiating with your lenders and landlords. You need to be candid with them, and tell them the whole truth about the beating that your business has taken from Covid-19. You could even include your business’ financial statements in your presentations to the lenders or landlords. The financial statements would serve as evidence to them that your business is really going through a rough patch. Most lenders and landlords are reasonable people. If you properly demonstrate to them that your business is currently unable to meet its obligations, they are likely to understand.Subsequently, they are more likely than not to give you deferrals or other considerations. But if you fail to renegotiate, they may be inclined to think that you are failing to pay them on time/as expected deliberately. This could, in the worst case scenario, even cause the lenders to organize for your stuff to be auctioned off. As for the landlords, they could be inclined to evict your business from their premises. But such scenarios are unlikely, if you take the trouble to renegotiate.