Coronavirus: 8 Things Your Small Business Needs to Do
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.
With the uncertain times we are in, small business owners have to think outside the box. We know you were hit hard and are not sure when you will be able to open up the doors of our businesses. We are here to help.
Establish a Remote Work Option
Even the board members of the Chamber have had to shift the way we meet. We know the country will get back up and running, but for now, we need to look for tools we would not normally use. We have adopted Zoom meetings, created new Facebook information groups, and dove into Google Drive to share documents with each other. This is a good time for you and your team to create work at home practices in case an emergency comes up in the future.
Reduce Meetings and Travel
Move team meetings to an online platform like Zoom and set reminders in a Facebook group. Maybe you have a sales team that travels to meet clients. Have them use emails or video calls if needed. Android users can use apps like Hangout and Apple users can use FaceTime. You can use electronic scan programs to have forms signed for contracts if needed.
Give Employees Flexibility
Keep in mind, not only are you adapting to how to manage your business remotely, but your employees are also adapting how to work at home. Schools are shut down, kids are home, the dog is barking all the time. You might have to have meetings later in the day when kids are down for the night. The best thing to do is ask employees what time will work best for them, and try not to demand a time that may not work well for them.
Be Transparent With Your Customers
Your customers will understand, they are going through this also. Set up an email campaign using free programs like MailChimp or Constant Contact. Create a link on your website or Facebook page for them to sign up for it. Tell them how often you will send them out to keep them updated. In the newsletter, let them know how they can help. Maybe it is having them buy gift certificates or new products or projects you're working on to better service them once you can reopen. If you're in the restaurant industry, try asking your patrons what new dishes they might want to see on the menu once you reopen. Create a recipe card for them of a dish you serve so they can cook it at home. Again, you want to let your customers know you are thinking of them and missing them.
Once We Can Reopen
Have a policy in place to keep strict guidelines of hygiene in place. In your newsletter, tell your customers about the new procedures you are going to put in place. Maybe it is new signs in the bathroom about washing your hands for 20 seconds or hiring someone whose main job is to just keep things clean. Tell both your employees and your customers how you plan on keeping them safe.
Shift Your Sales Strategy Online
You might not have a website or know how to create one. That's ok. Maybe you want to start using Facebook or Instagram to get the word out. Even if you don’t have a product to sell online, create an online presence allowing people get to get to know you better. This is a great time to create a relationship with your clients. Restaurant owners could create a cooking show on YouTube for your clients to go to. Maybe you're a barber-create style tips for your clients on Instagram. This is your time to think out of the box and maybe see a growth in customers. You may even find that these tips are useful once you reopen.
Look Over Your Insurance Policy
A lot of businesses have standard insurance, that covers the basics like fire or if someone gets injured at your location. Did you know there is something called Business Interruption Insurance that may pay you because you had to close due to the pandemic? This is something to ask your agent about. Who knows? Maybe you had a rider on your policy and didn't even know about it.
Plan For LongTerm
We're all working in unprecedented times. When life hands you lemons, make lemonade! It is not too late to create a plan on how to handle being down for weeks, or even months. Not only for this pandemic, but maybe (hope it never happens) your business has a fire or a flood...it might take months to reopen. This plan can take some of the steps we have talked about and implement a way to keep your business and employees up and running during most types of shut-downs.
SBA PPP Loan Information
The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll.
The SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities.
You can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans once they are approved and enrolled in the program. You should consult with your local lender as to whether it is participating in the program.
Lenders may begin processing loan applications as soon as April 3, 2020. The Paycheck Protection Program will be available through June 30, 2020.
SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance
In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, small business owners in all U.S. states, Washington D.C., and territories are eligible to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000. This advance will provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. Funds will be made available following a successful application. This loan advance will not have to be repaid.