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There is no argument that the past 18 months have been difficult for all small businesses. Covid caused widespread mayhem and forced many small – and many large – companies to shut office and factory doors and where possible, work remotely.
With vaccine rollouts helping slow the spread of the virus, how does a small business that has been affected by the pandemic make a recovery? We have six tips to help plan your way forward, so let’s get down to business.
1. Do not panic
In the early stages of the pandemic, there was a general feeling of shock and confusion. This was entirely natural, as nobody knew quite what we were dealing with. Now we have a pathway forward there is no reason to panic. Take it easy — for your sake and the sake of your business — and start planning in simple steps. No business is going to be back to full capacity straight away, so don’t worry about losing out in the short term. Look three months ahead, and draw up a plan for that period of your operational hours.
2. Look at government and other aid
Some world governments have put in place financial support for businesses that have been affected by the pandemic. You should contact your local government office and ask about any such aid that may cover your business. Also, talk to your bank, landlord and others whom you pay regularly about suspending payments for a short while, as this will give you time to get back into the cash flow routine. You may find there is aid ready to come your way that you are not aware of, so investigate this carefully.
3. Use local resources
Use your local chamber of commerce and other local business organizations to find out what is available from council or community groups. Many have formed in the last year and a half to help not only local citizens but also local businesses survive the pandemic. In Central Brooklyn, for example, Project Trust has been put together by Klen and the Central Brooklyn Economic Development Corporation. The two partnered to enable improvements in digital communications in the local business community. Partnerships such as this have been formed in many towns, cities and other areas to keep the local businesses in touch with the latest developments — and also help them grow.
4. Come back slowly
Remember that everyone — including your competitors — is in the same situation. All will have to rebuild so there is no immediate rush. The virus is still affecting lives and will do so for a long time, so don’t expect to be back to full production in a week. Also, your staff may have been working from home for some time. Returning to the work environment is going to take a lot of getting used to, so perhaps think about allowing them to work remotely for part of the week at least, rather than going back full-time in the office straight away. Just as it was a culture shock not to go to the office every day, so it will be in reverse. Remember that three-month plan? Make sure this goes in it.
5. Keep costs low
Your main problem in the immediate future is that of cost and expenditure. You need to keep outgoings to a minimum until your team is back up to speed. You can’t expect full productivity — it will have reduced during the pandemic naturally — so stay at the same level you have been for the last year to keep costs at that point. Leaving your staff working remotely keeps your costs down. Talk to the landlord of the office about reduced rent. Any area you can save money is important, which brings us to our final point.
6. Upskill current staff
You are going to want to resume your growth rate in the near future, yet it is going to be difficult to hire extra staff with the stunted financial situation. Now is the time to enable your team to learn new skills. They know that these times are troublesome and that they will need to put the effort in, and if you give them the opportunity to learn more about digital communication, for example, you are not only enabling them to gain new skills but enhancing the skills of your team.
The next few months will not be easy, but if you plan carefully and take your time, you can rebuild and start growing once again.