Is it too early to begin thinking about life after the coronavirus? On one hand, turn on any news channel and it feels like we are still very much in the thick of it. However, looking the data, it is encouraging to see that, despite the large number of new cases still being reported daily, we are seeing the curve flatten and it seems the light is at the end of the tunnel.
At any rate, it is never too early to start thinking about the American people emerging from their homes and returning to normal life.
What will normal look like at the end of this?
No one knows for sure. But there is a lot of speculation. What will the economy look like? What will our country look like? What will the world look like? A healthy dose of speculation can be a good thing because it allows us to prepare for the various scenarios — or at least the most likely ones. A post-coronavirus world might look very different, especially depending on the industry.
If you are stressing out thinking about what your business will look like after the coronavirus, rather than running through the countless scenarios consider instead shifting your focus on the things you can control. Begin thinking about the things you can do right now to give your business the best opportunity to bounce back.
1) Don’t stop communicating with your customers during the quarantine
There is genuine concern that, the longer the quarantine lasts, the harder it will be for many businesses to survive. I think the general population assumes the big corporations in each industry will be okay, but what about the smaller shops? Now is a perfect time to communicate with customers that you are financially stable and are not going anywhere.
You should also consider keeping your social media updated and your email list communicated with. However, one way to set yourself apart is by releasing content that is unique. We’ve all been receiving emails with each company’s stay at home policies for their employees. Frankly, as the audience, we don’t care. But if your business has a creative or interesting message that stays true to your brand, that will give you so much more mileage.
I follow a local coffee shop on Facebook and I’ve loved seeing their recent posts. They have stayed away from the normal emails I’ve been getting about employee’s hand washing procedures. Instead they posted about their employees handing out free coffee on a certain day for all the front line healthcare workers. Another post simply said “we miss you and can’t wait for the day our community is back.” Another post assured their audience that they are fortunate to be in a financial position to not only come back whenever this is over, but they are able to pay their employees through it as well. It showed me how much they value their team and how well they were prepared for a situation such as this.
2) Know what financial resources are available to you
The government has put together a stimulus package to help both individuals and business owners. For starters, check out our recent webinar on the CARES Act and the ways it protects small businesses.
3) Reassure employees how valuable they are to you
The anxiety you’re feeling as the business owner? You can be sure your employees are feeling it as well. Even in this time of uncertainty, you can show your employees how valuable they are to you through a handwritten note, maybe a weekly conference call or a personal phone call. They need to know that you will do whatever it takes to take care of and support your employees.
4) Put together a marketing strategy for when your business is allowed to resume.
This should start with communicating with everyone on your email list, everyone on your mailing list, everyone on your social media channels, everyone who drives by your place of business and can see your sign out front. And it might take sending that consistent message at least 6 or 7 times before people catch on.
What do you want to say to them? What simple, clear, focused message do you want to get across? It might be simply, “we are open for business!” Or maybe it is something witty or eye catching. Hair salons: “ABC salon is open again and ready to fix all of the bad haircuts from quarantine!”
It might be a discount or offer to entice them to come back. Maybe it is a message of how busy you are to create a sense of urgency to book an appointment with you.
Think about your audience and how they will best receive a message from you. Make it timely and relevant, and sensitive to the real heartache that will take a while to recover from.
5) Look into the PPP* or EIDL
These are loans created by the SBA in response to the coronavirus pandemic. You’ve probably heard of the CARES Act. That was the government’s $2.2 trillion dollar package that was passed late in March to help struggling individuals, families and business owners. It would be wise to look into the two loan options created by the SBA as soon as possible because they have provisions that could allow for the loans to turn into grants which you are not required to pay back up to certain dollar amounts.
*As of today 4/16/2020, the SBA has announced the PPP loan program has been depleted and, as a result, approvals have been put on a temporary hold. However, applications are still being accepted and congress is discussing ways to supplement the program and keep it going. We will keep you updated on the progress.
6) Make financial projections
It might be difficult right now to know how much your personal or company’s financial situation will be affected by the time this is all said and done. However, just because you don’t know doesn’t mean you can’t still put together a game plan for the three following scenarios: Worst, projected, best.
What is your worst-case-scenario? This crisis continues into the summer? The fall? How will your business respond? Will that cause you to fold? Or are there other ways you can create an income stream while your main business is down. Get creative. I think of a local brewery that makes their own vodka. They’ve used their equipment to instead create hand sanitizer that they are selling by the gallons and making loads of cash right now.
Projected scenario is what you expect will happen. What steps can you take right now that will speak your projected scenario into existence?
Best case scenario is what we all hope for. What can make this dream a reality? Is there anything within your control?
You see, making projections isn’t just about the head knowledge. At least it shouldn’t be. You should take that information to make informed decisions about your future as a company based on these projections.
Give us a call to help with this area. We are working tirelessly for our business owners to offer guidance during this time. Some of the things we have been working on for our business owners include a detailed cash flow analysis, future income projections, and assistance on SBA loans.
7) Check in with the news, only once per day
We need to stay informed of what is happening around us, however, an obsessive fixation with the news can bring about feelings of stress and anxiety over things we can’t control. Turn on the news at any given time and to any given channel and you will find an incredible variety of “experts” making predictions of what will happen tomorrow. Nobody knows for sure, but everyone wants to know and wants to be the first to report it.
8) Think about what measures you might put into place to keep your customers safe
Disney World has talked about making all guests go through a small health screening process when they enter the parks. Movie theaters have talked about only selling seats that are 6 feet apart. Major League Baseball has talked about a plan to play all its games in Arizona, while remaining quarantined in hotels outside of the games.
As much as we would all like a switch to be flipped and have this whole thing over as quickly as it began, the reality is that it will likely be a process to get back to “normal”.
That said, it is time to start thinking about what policies you might implement to promote the health of your workers and customers. Will social distancing in your place of business be easy, or will it take some creativity? Putting precautions and safety measures in place will be looked favorably upon by your audience, as it will show that you care more about their well-being than anything else.9
We will continue to look for ways business owners can prepare in times like these for what’s to come. Remember, the comeback will be greater than the setback, just have to keep plugging away.
Be safe, everyone!