Small Business Strategies: Four Ways to Fight Back Against Coronavirus
Has your business has been directly impacted by COVID-19? These four tips can add resilience to your operations.
As more communities take steps to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), a greater number of small businesses are being impacted. According to a survey from Thryv, Inc. and the Small Business Development Center, 73% of small businesses say customer demand is down and 79% are “extremely concerned” about the economic impact of the virus.
If your business has been directly impacted by COVID-19, there are four steps you can immediately take to weather the storm.
Coronavirus small business strategy #1: Bolster working capital and cash flow
As consumers stay home to slow the spread of COVID-19, it’s important to prepare for decreased sales and diminished cash flow. Taking decisive action to bolster your working capital and cash flow could make a critical difference in your business’ survival.
Small businesses impacted by the coronavirus may benefit from the following options:
- SBA Debt Relief Program. If you have an existing SBA 7(a), 504 or micro loan, this program will automatically pay the principal, interest and fees for a period of 6 months starting from March 27, 2020. According to the SBA, you will not need to take any action to receive this benefit and your financial institution should notify you with additional details. Additionally, the SBA will automatically pay the principal, interest, and fees of new 7(a), 504 and micro loans issued prior to Sep 27, 2020.
- Private sector programs. Facebook is offering $100 million in cash grants to up to 30,000 small businesses in more than 30 countries. Yelp is also providing $25 million in funding to small businesses affected by COVID-19, particularly restaurants and nightlife businesses.
- Seek new terms for contracts and debt. Some landlords may be willing to provide an extension for paying your rent. Many financial institutions — including Zions Bank — may also be willing to provide loan payment deferrals when conditions permit. Contact your banker for assistance.
Coronavirus small business strategy #2: Be proactive in helping your workers stay healthy and productive
If you require employees to work from your office during an outbreak, help them practice social distancing by keeping a 6-foot distance from their colleagues. You should also consider increasing cleaning intervals, providing sanitary wipes and educating employees on healthy workplace hygiene.
Implement health, wellness and leave benefits consistent with guidelines offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These guidelines include non-punitive emergency sick leave policies, not requiring a healthcare provider’s note to validate illness and maintaining flexible policies that allow employees to care for sick family members.
If you implement a remote working policy, be sure to communicate clear expectations on availability, responsiveness and productivity measurements.
Coronavirus small business strategy #3: If possible, pivot your business model to adapt to challenges
If your services or products are designed for in-store experiences, consider how you can keep customers engaged with your brand even as they stay home. Some small businesses are finding success by using technology to overcome social distancing, such as yoga studios streaming classes online.
If you can help your customers patronize your business from the comfort of their own homes, your business can become resilient to virus-related disruptions. Each business is different, but these SBA resources can help you put together a customized plan.
Coronavirus small business strategy #4: Prepare effective crisis communications
Communicating the status of your operations and preventive measures will help retain the trust and loyalty of your customers. If you anticipate any coronavirus-related scenarios that may impact your operations, creating approved content in advance will help you respond quickly to incidents. Providing ongoing and transparent communication will help keep your business top-of-mind for your customers and earn their confidence during an uncertain time.
Despite the challenging business environment, small business owners have reasons to be hopeful about the future. Aside from federal stimulus packages, many consumers are rallying to support America’s small businesses by buying gift cards, ordering delivery service or making donations to online fundraisers.
If you need an outside perspective for helping your small business overcome the coronavirus crisis, reach out to a Zions Bank officer near you to tap into their experience and discuss possible options. As the top 7(a) SBA lender* for 26 years in Utah and for 18 years in Idaho, Zions Bank has the experience and resources to help you navigate the SBA loan process.
*Loans subject to credit approval and SBA approval. Terms and conditions apply. See a banker for details.
Malcolm Hong is Public Relations Officer for Zions Bank in Idaho.