Businesses around the world are currently facing one of the worst times to operate in modern history. Not only was the coronavirus pandemic entirely unprecedented, but many of us have not lived through a pandemic in our lives, so have found ourselves completely out of our depth when we’ve found ourselves trying to navigate the situation and continue generating sales in spite of social isolation measures and social distancing measures. These really hard times for businesses of all sizes and in all fields. Even online companies still require people to work together on a face to face basis to produce and manufacture goods, package goods and ship goods out to customers. So, we’re all struggling. It’s not all too surprising that many of us are extremely stressed right now, considering the huge number of businesses that we are witnessing collapsing. Many major companies are falling apart under current circumstances, so if you’re running a small business, you may feel like there’s no hope for you. But, it’s important to remain as optimistic as possible and to keep your chin up. Sure, many people’s income has been impacted and people are more reluctant to spend the money that they do have. But there’s always a way to make sales and now, more than ever, people are looking to support smaller businesses, as they want the best for local and small brands during these hard times. So, rather than questioning whether your business will make it or not, it’s important to change your mindset. Instead, ask how you can help your business through these hard times. The following steps should help you along the way.
Cafes, Pubs and Restaurants
Cafes, pubs and restaurants are one of the sectors that have been hit hardest by this pandemic. They were amongst the first businesses to be asked to officially close their doors to the public, so many have been out of operation for months now. While the government may be offering financial support in the form of stimulus checks, allowing you to furlough your staff, or making grants and loans available (options vary depending on the country or state you’re operating within), but this doesn’t eliminate the fact that other overheads are due. Most cafes, pubs and restaurants are tied into contracts, such as commercial property rent and maintenance agreements. So, while you may feel more secure about being able to pay your staff while the doors are closed, you may be facing financial trouble yourself. One way that many businesses are coping with this is to provide their services to the public off-site and in alternative manners. If you usually provide food, it could be a good idea to offer food delivery services. Sure, customers won’t get the atmosphere of eating out in a nice location with a good atmosphere. But chances are that your regulars are missing their favourite meals, snacks and desserts. Offering a curbside collection service or a delivery service could help you to secure some sales and generate some income. Another option that small businesses are providing is gift cards, vouchers or credit notes. This allows people to pay for a meal or drink now and to redeem it later once your premises can open back up. Sure, this could result in slight difficulties in the future if people start claiming meals that have already been paid for (and that the money has already been used for), but it could help to keep you afloat now.
If you run an office, chances are your workers are all working remotely right now. This is great, as it allows your business to continue operating without putting any of your staff members at risk. However, it can feel like a waste that you’re currently paying for office space that isn’t being used. Many of us will be coming to the end of our office contracts during this pandemic and before people are able to return to the workplace, so you have a pretty big decision on your hands – to continue renting the space or to forgo the space. For some of us, this will be a pretty simple decision to make. You might have found that remote working really works for your company. Staff may be happier, as they’re not having to commute and can work more comfortably from their own home. They may still be hitting KPIs and targets without having to be in a supervised and monitored environment. Communications software may be allowing meetings and other necessary discussions to go forward as simply as they would have in-person. In this scenario, you may want to continue remote working as a permanent change. You get the same work completed, but simply don’t have to fork out on commercial premises rent and overheads! However, if you do intend to get back to the office at some point or another, the decision on whether to continue your contract may be a little harder. None of us know when this pandemic will end and when things will be able to go back to usual. If you renew your rent agreement, it could be months before you get back into the space and you could feel that you’ve wasted a whole lot of money. If you don’t, you may worry that you won’t find other suitable premises in a similar location when we do come out of the pandemic. At the end of the day, this decision falls solely down to you and what you’re willing to risk. It could be worth trying to negotiate a rolling contract with the landlord or letting agent. This will allow you to review your decision on a monthly basis, rather than finding yourself tied into a year long contract. If you do plan to go back in-office, it’s worth noting that you may need to invest in alterations when people head back to work. This could involve investing in PPE, which you can find at this website, rearranging desks, coming up with rotas for lunch breaks, expanding toilets to prevent long queuing systems and other premises alterations to allow for social distancing upon employees’ return to work.
Brick and Mortar Stores
If you have a traditional brick and mortar store, chances are you’ve had to close your doors to the public for a while now – and we’re not sure when doors will be reopened. Of course, if you stick to a complete brick and mortar approach, chances are that your business won’t make it. It will be impossible to make sales or generate profits until customers can re-enter. This is why it’s absolutely essential that you’re open to the option of ECommerce. Nowadays, many physical stores have complementary Ecommerce stores anyway. But if you’re not operating online yet, now is the time to get started. Operating online means that customers can make purchases from you around the clock and from a safe distance. They can buy from their home and you can deliver the goods to them – whether that’s personally, through the post or through a courier. Of course, this is going to take some investment. You’re going to have to work with a web designer and web developer to get a site up and running. You’re going to have to invest in professional product photography to show off your goods in their best light. But all in all, it will be more than worth it to allow your business to continue operating!
These, of course, are just a few different areas that you may be operating in. But hopefully, some of the above advice will prove relevant and useful for you!