Here are the top CDC-recommended tips that small business owners can take to mitigate risk, protect employees and support customers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic is spreading rapidly throughout the world and locally, with new updates flying in every minute. As the situation evolves, many small business owners are unsure of what steps to take to reduce risk, protect employees and support customers.
Here are the key points and immediate steps that the CDC and SBA recommends for small businesses.
1. Create a Budget and Stick to It
Analyze your financials and see where you can cut back. Small monthly dues and subscriptions add up quickly. Many small business owners try to cut back on their accounting costs because typically they have a full time accountant on staff. Did you know you can hire a virtual bookkeeper starting at only $99 per month? Accounting is what you need right now, you need to have accurate reporting and budgeting so your cash-flow stays afloat and you make sound business decisions.
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2. Ramp up your Marketing and Be Creative
Marketing is going to keep your customers aware of your situation and how they can help. We are all in this together, big named companies are showing how they are helping the community, telling their customers how much they care and offering special incentives during this difficult time. How can you show your customers you care? Find a virtual marketing guru that can help you re-brand your business, advertise your company and keep your business rolling.
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3. Buy Local
Just like you are suffering as a small business owner, many others are in the same boat. Amazon, Wal-Mart, Target and the big suppliers are getting more sales and growing in revenue while all of the small local businesses are being forced to close shop. If we all buy local small businesses we can help each other!
4. Establish Remote Work
With plenty of people already working remotely, there are a lot of free tools business owners can utilize so that teams can stay in touch and keep working even if they aren’t in the same place.
5. Implement Remote Software
Recommended Work at Home Options: TeamViewer & LogMeIn can be setup to access a computer inside of an office or different location. If you need to share and access files through an electronic filing system, GoogleDrive is an excellent choice. Homebase is also a google clock-in option for keeping track of employee time cards and schedules.
4. Home-base Work Schedule
Implement a remote work policy that covers when you expect your team to be online or available, how to communicate (via email, Slack, Zoom, or video call, for instance), and what tasks each team member is responsible for completing.
[Read more: 4 Ways Your Business Can Support Remote Workers]
5. Virtual Meetings
Try to keep opportunities for exposure to the virus to a minimum. Postpone any team meetings or hold them virtually. Skip any conferences or other planned business travel that is not absolutely necessary. If your workers get sick because of travel or meetings, you could have a liability issue on your hands, or you will have to manage low morale and sick leave requests.
6. Provide Employees Flexibility
Schools across the country are closing, as are offices, stores, businesses and commercial centers. With the country slowly moving toward total lockdown, you will need to be flexible with your employees’ time.
Some team members may have to leave unexpectedly if their child’s daycare closes. Others may have students who come home from school for spring break and aren’t able to return. Try to be as understanding as possible when something comes up and have a contingency plan in case you suddenly become short-staffed.
7. Communicate transparently with your customers
Everyone is facing this crisis together, so be transparent about what your business is going through. Customers can empathize with brands facing a crisis, as long as you communicate with them properly.
As Harvard Business Review reports, “When customers are separated from the work that’s being done behind the scenes to serve them, they appreciate the service less and then they value the service less.”
Describe the steps you’re taking to mitigate risk and give them insight into the steps you’re taking to help the community.